Page last updated at 06:49 GMT, Friday, 28 March 2008

List reveals top council earners

Money (generic)
At least 15 Welsh councils pay top staff more than 100,000 a year

At least 15 councils in Wales pay their senior staff more than 100,000 a year according to a "rich list" by campaign group Taxpayers Alliance (TPA).

The survey claimed Cardiff Council paid the most in 2006-7 for its chief executive Byron Davies 151,186.

Blaenau Gwent and Anglesey were the only authorities found not to pay any staff more than 100,000 a year.

CBI Wales said it did not think the salaries were excessive provided they were linked to performance.

The UK-wide survey is part of the TPA's campaign for lower council taxes. Councils have been asked for comment.

According to the TPA, Carmarthenshire Council are the second highest payers in Wales after chief executive Mark James received a total of 148,867 in 2006-7.

Merthyr Tydfil was third after paying its chief executive Alistair Neill 131,476 over the same period.

Pay details

The highest overall earner in the survey was revealed as former Swansea Council chief executive Tim Thorogood who left his post in 2006.

He picked up 167,156.70 in 2005-6 which included 62,623.50 in the form of a severance package, said the survey.

Cardiff chief executive Byron Davies - 151,186
Carmarthenshire chief executive Mark James - 148,867
Ceredigion chief executive Owen Watkin - 102,618
Conwy chief executive Derek Barker - 101,036
Denbighshire chief executive Ian Miller - 109,385
Flintshire occupational physician P Oliver - 105,725
Gwynedd chief executive Harry Thomas - 105,725
Merthyr Tydfil chief executive Alistair Neill - 131,476
Monmouthshire chief executive Colin Berg - 103,515
Neath Port Talbot chief executive Ken Sawyers - 125,000
Newport chief executive Chris Freegard - 120,524
Powys chief executive Mark Kerr - 108,454
Wrexham chief executive Isobel Garner - 103,269
"Town Hall Rich List" - Welsh council top earners 2006-7 in alphabetical order. Source: Tax Payers' Allowance/FoI

The council explained that the payment was a one-off annual salary due to Mr Thorogood's pay-off and that the current council leader was not earning anywhere near that amount.

The TPA put the list together after sending Freedom of Information requests to more than 450 local authorities across the UK in December 2007.

The requests asked for employee pay details for the two most recent financial years - 2005-06 and 2006-07 - with the TPA compiling the list on the back of the responses it received.

The organisation was formed in 2004 to represent taxpayers and fight for lower taxes.

This is the second "rich list" it has created as part of its campaign.

TPA chief executive Matthew Elliott said: "Taxpayers have a right to know how much senior town hall officials are being paid because only then can we judge whether they deserve their remuneration.

"Too often, council executives are rewarded handsomely even when they fail. Families and pensioners are struggling with the demands of yet another council tax rise, and councils owe it to them to cut back on executive pay hikes."


Councils who failed to respond to the survey included Caerphilly, Pembrokeshire, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Torfaen and Vale of Glamorgan.

A Carmarthenshire County Council spokesman said: "We reduced the number of director posts by 15% and the number of head of service posts by over 30% since 2003, saving nearly 1m each year on its salaries bill.

"The council is a huge business, spending some 535m each year. It has nearly 9,000 employees, providing 200 different services to the county.

"We need the best chief officers and their remuneration reflects both the scale and success of the transformation in service delivery and regeneration over recent years."

A spokeswoman for Merthyr Tydfil Council said: "Wales needs to be competitive in the public sector as in the private sector.

"It is widely recognised that a local authority chief executive in an equivalent position in the private sector would be salaried around three times the public sector level and receive a range of other substantive benefits such as bonuses in addition."

The Welsh Local Government Association has also been asked to comment.

David Rosser, director of the Confederation of British Industry in Wales, said the focus should not be on the amount executives were paid but on the responsibilties they had and whether an element of performance was built into their salary.

He said: "I don't think 100,000 a year for someone running an organisation with several thousand staff sounds particularly excessive.

"But if that then becomes a job for life, with no real relation with their performance, then that's a different issue.

"Reward for failure is a bad thing whether in the public or private sector but to say families are hard-pressed and we should cut exectives' salaries doesn't make much sense to me."


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