This is how much the highest-paid Lancashire county and district council staff receive
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The data was compiled by the TaxPayers’ Alliance, a right-of-centre pressure group which campaigns for lower taxes and publishes its so-called “Town Hall Rich List” every year.
The highest-earning local government official at any Lancashire authority was County Hall’s chief executive Angie Ridgwell, whose salary amounted to £206,000. She also fulfils the role of director of resources and did not receive any pension benefits for the year in question.
There are ten other officers at the county council whose remuneration ranged from £109,000 to £160,000.
The latter figure was the combined pay and pension package received by the authority’s second-highest earner, executive director of adult services and health and wellbeing Louise Taylor - who is responsible for the service area which accounts for the largest share of Lancashire County Council’s budget.
Three of the highest-earning officers are not identified either by name or role in the published data. Another three have a basic salary of below £100,000, but appear on the list because their pension contributions pushed them above that amount overall.
A spokesperson for Lancashire County Council said: "Senior officers’ pay is intended to reflect their responsibilities, skills, and experience and ensure the best people possible are in these key positions.
"The senior management structure of the county council has been streamlined in recent years, which has also put us in a much better position to deal with the present COVID-19 crisis."
At district authority level in Central Lancashire, Chorley and South Ribble councils have four officers between the authorities who earned six-figure sums. However, the highest earners were not the respective chief executives, but the holder of the shared role as head of assurance services which cuts across both councils. That individual left part-way through the year and so received £31,000 in salary during 2018/19 - but a further £126,000 in pension contributions and £29,000 in what is believed to be redundancy.
Since last summer, Chorley’s chief executive Gary Hall has also been fulfilling the top role temporarily at neighbouring South Ribble - but for the period in question, the posts each had one person occupying them. Mr. Hall earned £110,000 in pay and pension benefits, while South Ribble’s Heather McManus received £131,000. Ms. McManus has been on what the authority described as “special leave” for almost twelve months.
South Ribble Council leader Paul Foster said: “The annual salary that we pay to the council’s chief executive is competitive and comparable to that of other district councils in Lancashire.”
Chorley Council leader Alistair Bradley said that the authority openly publishes its highest earners every year in order to provide transparency for residents.
He added: “The chief executive has a myriad of hugely important responsibilities across a wide spectrum of critical services - he is the council’s Returning Officer, overseeing the delivery of all local and national elections (plus bygone European elections) for the Chorley polling district; he is the Head of Paid Service, so essentially he has an active role in every department to ensure a high quality of service delivery for all our residents; he liaises closely with all 46 elected members of the council; and he represents Chorley Council at a regional and national level, through his work with the Lancashire Resilience Forum and other similar organisations – giving a voice to Chorley and making sure its needs are met.
“In recent years, during times of financial pressure and austerity, our chief executive has also paved the way for a crucial transformation of the authority which has led to the improvement of services and £4m in efficiency savings.
“Therefore, as one of the country’s busiest, most ambitious district councils, we believe that the salary of the chief executive is more than justified - and is only in-keeping with what other local authorities across Lancashire and the rest of the country are currently paying.”
There are two Lancashire districts – Preston and Burnley – which do not appear on the list, either because they did not pay anybody above £100,000 or their data was not published by the time the TaxPayers’ Alliance conducted its research. The same statistics from 2017/18 showed that Preston City Council had just one officer who fell into the high-earning category - its chief executive who received an overall package of £149,000.
John O'Connell, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “The coronavirus crisis means that frontline council services are more crucial than ever, but at the same time household budgets face an enormous squeeze from crushing council tax rises.
“There are plenty of talented people in local authorities who are focused on delivering more for less, but that is needed across the board. The country needs every council to cut out waste and prioritise key services without resorting to punishing tax hikes on their residents.
“These figures should shine a light on the town hall bosses who’ve got it right, but also allow taxpayers to hold to account those who aren’t delivering value for money at this critical time.”
The organisation found that at least 2,667 people employed by local authorities in 2018-19 received more than £100,000 - an increase of nine percent on the previous twelve months.
A total of 667 employees received over £150,000, while 32 earned more than a quarter of a million pounds.