FAREHAM Borough Council is to award its chief executive a pay rise despite announcing that it needs to find £800,000 of savings.
The salary of chief executive Peter Grimwood was agreed by the council at its full meeting, even though other staff may be at risk of losing their jobs due to the cutbacks, which need to happen by April 2015.
An independent review was carried out into Mr Grimwood’s salary and concluded that his salary should rise over five years from £108,000 to £125,000 per year. He is currently paid £107,574.
Lib Dem opposition councillors labelled it ‘bad timing’ and ‘totally insensitive’.
Leader of the opposition Cllr Paul Whittle said: ‘We are not against the concept of reviewing pay packages. The timing is shocking. That amount of money could be the difference of somebody at a lower level keeping their job or not. It is totally insensitive.’
Leader of the council Cllr Sean Woodward defended the increase, saying that it was vital to retain such an experienced chief executive.
Cllr Woodward said: ‘Mr Grimwood has saved this council £3m in the past three years. What with Daedalus and Welborne, the role of the chief executive is a huge role and the issue is about retention. With his experience, Mr Grimwood could easily get a job with a unitary authority earning upwards of £170,000 per year.’
Mr Grimwood has worked for the council for 15 years, spending five years in leisure and environment, five years in corporate policy, and five years as chief executive.
He has worked in various roles with local authorities for 30 years.
Lib Dem councillors and the only independent councillor present at the full council meeting voted against the pay rise.
All council staff will also be getting a one per cent pay rise, to help them cope with the rising cost of living, something which has not been done for staff the past three years and for senior management, including the chief executive, for the past five years.
In comparison to another council, Sandy Hopkins, chief executive of Havant Borough Council and East Hants District Council, is paid £125,000 per year.