Councillors unite

Chief Executive Paul Walker.
Chief Executive Paul Walker.
Have your say

A MAIL poll of every councillor in Hartlepool has revealed that 100 per cent said they did not support the cabinet’s decision to award a £10,000 pay rise to chief executive Paul Walker.

The staggering results leave no doubt that had the decision to award the pay rise been put before Hartlepool’s full council, it would never have gone ahead.

It follows revelations that a Hartlepool Borough Council scrutiny committee which examined the salary increase had recommended it be turned down.

It also follows Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond’s bid to “repair the damage” over the pay rise row by revealing that any council job with a salary of £58,000 or above will be approved by the full council in the future.

In response to anger from the public, which has been reflected on our website, in our letters pages and over the telephone, we decided to put your questions to your representatives.

We asked them:

1) Do you support the cabinet’s decision to award the £10,000 pay rise?

2) If the pay rise had been voted on by the full council, would you have voted for or against?

3) Do you believe that Mr Walker should accept the pay rise?

The results show that not one councillor supported the decision and every councillor said they would have voted against the rise at full council.

Members also revealed whether or not they thought Mr Walker should accept the rise and what he should do with the money.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, has also said he wants to see every job with a salary above £100,000 be approved by full council.

If that had happened, then Mr Walker would not have been given the rise which has seen his salary go from £157,205 to £168,000 a year.

Mayor Drummond and cabinet members have since revealed that they would have voted against the rise, which was first approved in October 2009, if it came to them again in the current climate.

Councillors sitting on the scrutiny co-ordinating committee said they could find “no evidence” to back the rise after calling the original decision in.

But cabinet members ratified their original decision last December and it emerged publicly last week.

Mr Walker has since agreed to a request from Mayor Drummond to take four weeks unpaid leave at a personal cost of £13,000 after the backlash.

The news emerged at a time when the council is making 86 people redundant, cutting services and slashing £20m from its budget over the next four years.

l Mail view: Page 8