There might well be overwhelming evidence to justify Ian Lycett’s eye-watering £8,000-a-year pay rise.
But wouldn’t it have been right and proper to have had those reasons aired publicly instead of sneakily pushed through at the last moment?
Most of us would kill for a wage boost of that size.
Most of us can whistle for such an act of largesse.
So what has Gosport Borough Council’s chief executive done to deserve his extra £8,000 – a rise which takes his salary to £99,000?
According to that authority’s ruling Conservative group he has saved the council £100,000 by cutting the workforce.
He works an average 50-hour week, 13 more than his contracted 37.
He does the work of several officers because some were among those whose positions were axed.
And he has ‘generated a lot of income’.
And, according to Tory council leader Mark Hook, he is the second-lowest paid council chief executive in Hampshire.
Of course, in our market-driven economy if you want the best, or want to hang on to the best, you must pay the going rate. We have no argument with that.
What we do take issue with is the underhand way in which this stonking pay rise was handled.
Under normal circumstances the council’s agendas are published seven days in advance, giving opposition members and the public – the very public who are paying Mr Lycett – the chance to comment or challenge an item.
Mr Lycett’s salary hike proposal was tabled, out of the blue, at the end of a meeting of the policy and organisation board. And voted through by the Tories.
We agree with the Liberal Democrat opposition leader, Councillor Peter Chegwyn, when he criticises the ‘sneaky’ tactics of those running Gosport.
Yes, Mr Lycett might be doing a wonderful job for the council and the people of Gosport and deserve his pay hike.
But the manner in which he was given it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth which will take a long time to swill away.