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Salaries and redundancy payments at Staffordshire Moorlands District Council cost taxpayers hundred of thousands of pounds

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: August 24, 2014

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THE salaries of 14 senior officers at Staffordshire Moorlands District Council cost taxpayers almost £1.5 million last year

The figure sit alongside payments made to two top managers whose posts were made redundant, and part-time staff who lost their jobs.

Figures for the 2013/14 accounts show that the authority's chief executive, Simon Baker, earned a package of £196,060.

This included a basic salary of £157,775, allowances of £12,094 and a pension contribution of £26,191.

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The authority's chief financial officer received a package of £143,137 and the monitoring officer £135,869.

Several other officers were paid packages of between £57,130 and £105,739.

The figures also show that the council's housing strategy manager earned a package of £177,269.

The post was then made redundant with a termination payment of £102,699, with a further pension fund payment of £55,212.

The transformation manager received a package of £143,807. This post was also made redundant during the year with a termination payment of £65,665.

The council, in conjunction with partner authority High Peak Borough Council, entered into a joint voluntary redundancy process during 2010/11, whereby the contracts of a number of employees were approved for termination.

Although many of those affected left the authority in 2011/12, a small number of further departures of 'non-senior' staff have also occurred since then. These included 11 part-time posts relating to the erection and dismantling of market stalls.

They were made redundant at an additional sum to the senior officers, of £121,000. A further £584,918 is payable in future pension contributions on staff departures under the redundancy process since 2010/11.

All officers now work jointly with the district and High Peak councils, which split the salaries.

The district council's leader has told the Post & Times that it is always mindful of achieving "value for money".

However, retired lecturer Reg Davies, aged 70, of North Street, Leek said: "The lavish pay for the chief executive is nothing short of scandalous, and a misuse of public money.

"This job, along with others at the top of the council need regrading, and bringing into line with similar roles in local industry.

"Should this job be advertised at, say £50,000 per annum, you would have a queue of suitable people all holding degrees, from Moorland House to the Monument.

"Last year some forced redundancies were made and I applaud that, but why are we paying, in the case of the 'housing strategy manager' a payment of £102,699 plus £55,212 to his pension fund, in the form of 'additional future contributions'. This is utter madness."

Leek resident Ken Holdway, aged 73, added: "Why should people be paid more than the Prime Minister, who is responsibility for the whole country. It also has to be asked why have these figures been allowed and why have they never been questioned by councillors."

In a statement to the Post & Times on salaries and redundancy payments, Leader of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, Councillor Sybil Ralphs, said: "The council is always mindful of its budgets and ensuring that public money is spent wisely and achieves value for money.

"We are constantly reviewing how we deliver services and the efficiencies programme has seen the number of senior managers reduced alongside a reduction in the salaries paid to those senior managers and to the Chief Executive.

"This is an ongoing process which is led by the senior management team, and it is essential that we are able to retain a strong and effective leadership team to drive this transformation in a competitive market.

"Our progressive approach to service delivery is well documented. We were one of the first councils to form a strategic alliance with a neighbouring authority – an arrangement that saves Moorlands taxpayers around £2.3 million each and every year, and has allowed us to freeze council tax for the last five years whilst protecting front line services.

"It is worth remembering that costs are evenly split with our alliance partners and that our accounts, including the salaries paid to our senior staff, are published annually in line with our open and transparent approach to the services we provide.

"Comparisons with the salaries earned by national figures are neither relevant nor compatible with our circumstances here in the Moorlands."

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