Ten Sunderland Council chiefs paid more than £100,000

Dave Smith, Sunderland City Council Chief Executive.'Official launch of the Sunderland Economic Masterplan
Dave Smith, Sunderland City Council Chief Executive.'Official launch of the Sunderland Economic Masterplan
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TEN Wearside council chiefs feature on this year’s “Town Hall Rich List” of employees earning more than £100,000.

The Taxpayers’ Alliance has released its annual report into the salaries of high-earning officials, examining data from financial years 2008/09 and 2009/10.

It showed Sunderland City Council’s chief executive Dave Smith’s total salary was £201,801 in 2009-10, with £7,905 benefits in kind and employer’s pension contributions of £29,261.

Dr Smith’s salary on his appointment in 2009 was about £170,000, though he receives extra pay from the Government for acting as a returning officer at elections.

A separate entry for 2008/09 lists the post of chief executive as earning £162,500.

The second highest Sunderland earner was Keith Beardmore, the former director of financial resources who retired last year.

He took £233,851 in 2009-10, made up of a £110,502 salary, £107,326 “compensation for loss of office” and employer’s pension contributions of £16,023, according to the list.

The council’s acting director of Children’s Services was paid £110,907 in 2009/10, according to the list, with a salary of £91,795, benefits in kind of £5,802 and employment pension contributions of £13,310.

The organisation’s information is incomplete for both years, but a total of 11 employees feature in entries for at least one year.

Other entries for Sunderland include an occupational health physician paid £122,500 in 2009-10, with two directors paid £103,500 in the same year.

Sunderland City Council has said it already posts salary details of high-earning staff on its own website.

The Town Hall Rich List release comes after it was revealed Dr Smith has taken measures to reduce his income by 11.6 per cent.

The move was announced by council leader Paul Watson at the authority’s budget meeting at the beginning of the month.

Questions have been raised as to how Dr Smith has reduced his pay, but both Coun Watson and Wearside Tory leader Tony Morrissey have said the top boss is worth his salt.

Coun Watson told councillors at a budget meeting that Dr Smith reducing his pay showed the “character of the man” who had achieved much success since taking office.

“We should be debating how much we’re going to have to increase his salary to keep him here,” he said.

Coun Morrissey said: “If the man’s doing the job he deserves the money.

“I think for too long Sunderland paid first-class wages and didn’t quibble about getting second-class results.

“I think if we’re paying higher wages and we’re seeing good results then I certainly think it’s worth the money – and I think avoiding compulsory redundancies is a tremendous result.”

Nationally there were 2,295 council employees receiving total remuneration in excess of £100,000 in 2009/10 on the Town Hall Rich List, an increase of 18 per cent.

The Taxpayers’ Alliance said this may partly be explained by a rise in the number receiving significant redundancy payments.

The councils with the most employees in receipt of remuneration over £100,000 in 2009-10 were Newcastle and Cornwall, both with 32.

John Ransford, chief executive of the Local Government Association the release of information by the Taxpayers’ Alliance showed councils were transparent. He also defended council chiefs earning high salaries.

He said: “Councils provide more than 700 services local people want and need.

“Many have large budgets and need to pay competitive wages if they are to attract and keep people capable of delivering the best services at the lowest cost.”