Page last updated at 10:28 GMT, Thursday, 17 April 2008 11:28 UK

Pay levels at councils defended

Money (generic)
Three councils spend over half a million each on top earners

The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) has defended the pay of senior council staff after the BBC learnt that 40 in Wales are earning over 100,000.

Eighteen of the 22 councils spend nearly 4m on those members of staff.

The Vale of Glamorgan has the most staff, seven, with six-figure salaries, including two teachers. This is more than the education minister earns.

The WLGA said councils required the best people to do the top jobs and that they were "hugely experienced".

The information was provided by 18 of the 22 councils in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by BBC Wales on staff salaries

According to the data released, it is thought that at least eight council staff are earning more than First Minister Rhodri Morgan (who gets 129,047) or the leader of the UK Conservatives David Cameron (who is on 132,317).

Two of the councils have yet to respond to the request - Cardiff and Carmarthen. The BBC are awaiting further details from Pembrokeshire and Rhondda Cynon Taff.

Councils were asked to provide details of numbers of staff earning over 50,000, 80,000 and 100,000.

We see professionals paid a good wage to do a very important and onerous job
Steve Thomas, WLGA

In the Vale of Glamorgan, seven staff were earning more than 100,000.

These include two teachers earning more than 100,000. The minister responsible for education in Wales Jane Hutt earns 91,000 per year.

Three of the councils spend more than half a million pounds each on the highest earners.

Blaenau Gwent and Ceredigion had no members of staff earning more than 100,000, and three and one respectively earning more than 80,000.

Last month, a campaign group released the results of a survey of all the councils in the UK showing how much each council chief executive earned.

Taxpayers' Alliance claimed the highest paid council chief executive in Wales for 2006-7 was Cardiff's Byron Davies on 151,186.

'Value for money'

Steve Thomas, chief executive of the WLGA, said: "We're talking about the most senior professionals in Welsh local government.

"These people have been in local government for many years. They're hugely experienced.

"They run something like over 200 functions including education and social services, they employ something like 165,000 people.

"These are top jobs and you require the best people to do them."

He said Wales was one of the poorest areas of the UK in terms of top salaries, saying the average chief executive pay in north east Wales was 105,000 compared to Chester just over the border on 161,000.

"I think we see Welsh local authorities offering great value for money," he added.

"We see professionals paid a good wage to do a very important and onerous job."

There will be more on this story on Dragon's Eye on BBC One Wales at 2235 BST on Thursday.


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Local government leaders say the high salaries are reasonable



WELSH COUNCIL ELECTIONS 2008

  Councillors Councils
Party +/- Total +/- Total
LAB -124 342 -6 2
CON 63 174 1 2
PC 31 205 -1 0
LD 21 162 0 0
OTH 9 381 0 0
NOC - - 6 18
22 of 22 councils declared.

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