Page last updated at 11:27 GMT, Wednesday, 4 June 2008 12:27 UK

Council's big salaries criticised

Andrea Hill
Andrea Hill's salary caused controversy when it was announced

A council that boosted its new chief executive's wage by 25% has been condemned for trying to recruit a press officer with a salary of up to 81,000.

Suffolk County Council was criticised in May when it emerged chief executive Andrea Hill was to be paid 220,000 - 30,000 more than the prime minister.

The Taxpayers' Alliance said it was shocked the council was continuing to hand out "fat pay packets".

But the council said the salary range for its press officer had not changed.

The Audit Commission has recommended the council review its recruitment process, following the controversy over Mrs Hill.

Taxpayers 'struggling'

The 44-year-old, who joined from Bedfordshire County Council in April, is being paid 70,000 more than her predecessor.

Mark Wallace, of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: "We constantly hear that councils are supposed to be cash-strapped and they use it as a justification for pushing up taxes and cutting services.

"It's shocking then that Suffolk County Council is splashing out so much money on fat pay packets at a time when ordinary taxpayers are struggling to make ends meet."

The press officer post - head of communications and marketing - is to be advertised after current holder Francis Thomas left the post on Tuesday.

Graham Dixon, director of resource management at the council, said Mr Thomas' resignation had nothing to do with the controversy surrounding the appointment of Mrs Hill.

"Francis Thomas has decided to leave the council after three-and-a-half years in order to pursue other career opportunities - by mutual agreement his departure will take immediate effect," he said.

The council said Mr Thomas' replacement would be paid in the same salary range, from 64,000 to 81,000.




SEE ALSO
Row over 220,000 council salary
11 Mar 08 |  England
New county council chief chosen
10 Mar 08 |  England

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