Hartlepool councillor blasts £1m wage annual bill of top council officers

A furious Hartlepool councillor has hit out at the level of senior officers’ pay and benefits with the bill for seven posts topping £1 million last year.

Tuesday, 24th November 2020, 7:00 am
Independent Councillor Tony Richardson says he does not believe the town is getting value for money for . Picture by FRANK REID

Independent Cllr Tony Richardson railed at the ‘mega bucks’ received by senior managers of Hartlepool Borough Council in 2019-20.

The total remuneration for the Chief Executive and six other senior manager posts came to £1,008,392 in 2019-20, up from £938,529 the previous year.

The council says a new senior management restructure approved by councillors earlier this year will save the authority £46,000 each year.

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Hartlepool Civic Centre.

Figures obtained by Cllr Richardson show former chief executive Gill Alexander, who retired in September this year, received £277,438 during her last full year in office made up of £160,191 salary, £71,448 pension contributions and £45,799 compensation for loss of office.

The salaries and pension contributions received by other senior managers in 2019-20 comprised the Director of Children’s and Joint Commissioning Services (£131,979), Director of Adult and Community Based Services (£126,506), Director of Regeneration and Neighbourhoods (£134,906), Director of Finance and Policy (£128,098), Director of Public Health (£111,490) and Chief Solicitor (£97,975).

Cllr Richardson, who represents Fens and Rossmere ward, said: “I got elected by the people to work for the people. How can I represent the people of this town when they’re getting mega bucks like that?

"Under the Localism Act we have to see that we’re getting value for money and to me we’re not.

"We’re struggling like hell to get things done. The roads and footpaths are a disgrace but the council says it hasn’t got the money. And we’ve got a lot of fly-tipping.

"Especially with the pandemic. People can’t feed their kids.”

Cllr Richardson questioned why Ms Alexander received the loss of office compensation and her pension contribution increased by just over £48,000 on the previous year.

Council papers stated they were associated with her leaving the council on September 6 and the deletion of the Chief Executive post in the senior management restructure.

A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesperson said: “A new senior management structure was approved by Finance and Policy Committee earlier this year, and appointments to the new roles were subsequently made by the Appointments Panel, which is made up of eight councillors approved by Full Council.

“One-off costs were incurred in the implementation of the new structure but the resulting recurring annual saving of £46,000 means that these will be paid back in two years.

“Following many years of deep cuts in Central Government funding, the changes to the senior management structure were implemented to help maximise the resources available to support frontline services.”

The council's Pay Policy Statement for 2020-21 that went before an Extraordinary Meeting of the council in June said the salary bands for chief officers provide ‘a robust and competitive pay strategy to retain and attract high calibre staff’.

Gill Alexender retired in September after five years as Chief Executive of the council having previously served as the authority’s Director of Child and Adult Services.

She earlier postponed her retirement for a short while to oversee the local authority’s coronavirus response.

Denise McGuckin is now the authority’s most senior officer as its Managing Director after being promoted from Director of Regeneration and Neighbourhoods.

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