Senior Officer Pay Review – The Facts & My Opinion

Town HallLast night at full council, councillors had their chance to debate the change of salaries of some senior officers at Peterborough City Council as agreed by the ‘cross party’ Employment Committee.

Many residents were outraged, mainly due to the misinformation and hype spread by some poorly researched media reporting, regarding actual ‘wage increases’ but this was factually incorrect, many even thought that it was councillors who were going to get the increase.

The facts are that this council has reviewed and reduced its senior officers by half and this has led to a huge reduction in salary costs of over £600K this year rising to£1M next year. Additional responsibilities have been taken on by the remaining senior officers which means their job roles have changed and this is the reason behind the salary review.  The review was undertaken by the Employment Committee after having taken advice from an external body who compare salary grading across both the public and private sectors and new salary ranges were suggested……….. high end, low end and median. The Employment Committee decided to go with the median.

However, while I accept the Employment Committee followed a logical salary review process before coming to their decision, I remain uneasy at the size of the agreed new salaries and felt I had to speak out at our group meeting in advance of, and again at full council last night.

“Madam Mayor

“I rise to support the proposal to refer this matter back to the Employment Committee.

“As a council we are reluctantly having to make some very difficult cuts due to the reductions in funding from central government (and we all know the reasons behind that). 

“Both the public and private sector have shown restraint in having to endure low or even nil increases over the past few years. Indeed ever since I became a councillor I and my fellow Conservative colleagues have adamantly resisted the independent recommendations to increase our allowances. To have accepted those suggested increases would have sent the wrong message to the people of Peterborough therefore we too have shown restraint during these difficult times.

“I therefore urge all those senior officers involved and the Employment Committee to show they appreciate the financial squeeze our city is suffering and also show some restraint.”

The previous pay policy assigned the decision on salaries to the Employment Committee therefore a new pay policy was written which included the requirement for any salary in excess of £100k to be agreed at full council. This new policy was presented to full council last night along with an amendment to also refer the current pay agreements back to the Employment Committee to review.

Incredibly the opposition voted against both, the Liberal Democrats even leaving the room in advance of the debate declaring they were unhappy to even take part, including their leader even though he was one of those on the Employment Committee. The leader of the Labour party stood to acknowledge his support for the salary increase as did the experienced Independent councillor both of whom were also members of the Employment Committee. One can only surmise that with an election upon us, political allegiances and hypocrisy took precedence over common sense in some sorry attempt to score points. What hope if they ever get to run our city?

Fortunately both I and the majority of the Conservative group voted to accept the new pay policy meaning any future award over £100K requires the matter be presented to full council and to refer the matter of these current increases back to the employment committee.