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Council prepared to pay big to recruit new officer

Controversy over high wages at Stratford District Council is set to continue after members agreed to boost the salary being offered to recruit a new officer to £80,000 per year.

The council is currently recruiting a new Head of Resources and Transformation Officer, but according to members the original wage offered of up to £69,730, had not been enough to attract the ‘right calibre’ of person.

In light of this, the Cabinet agreed last week to turn on the money tap, making available a new eye watering salary up to £80,000.

According to a benchmarking exercise at the council, the going rate for such a position at similar authorities is around £75,000.

Speaking at the meeting Cllr Mark Cargill said: “It’s vital that we have the right people here, we don’t want to pay more than we need to, but we need somebody in as soon as possible.”

Cllr Ian Shenton added: “We have to pay this supplement if we want the right calibre of person, if we don’t pay we won’t get somebody of the calibre we want.”

David Buckland, chief executive at Stratford District Council, admitted that this role had proven difficult to recruit into.

During the discussion some members stressed that if the right person could be recruited for less than £80,000 per year then the council would do so, but that figure would give the authority the ‘headroom’ it needed should that not be possible.

It is not the first time the issue of high salaries at the district council has raised eyebrows, last year the authority agreed a shakeup of its management structure which increased the authority’s overall wage bill by £111,000 per year.

It was argued that such changes were needed to deliver on the political vision of the authority, as it builds more partnerships and becomes more outward facing.

Last year elected members also voted to increase their allowances, following the recommendations of an independent report.

The move meant the total annual amount now paid to councillors as allowances increased by close to £60,000, with each member’s basic annual allowance going up by £875, while there were also further significant rises for members with special responsibilities.

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