Six Scottish council chiefs in UK ‘rich list’

John Sharkey, group chief executive of SEC Ltd which owns and operates the SECC,  received �314,553. Picture: Comp

John Sharkey, group chief executive of SEC Ltd which owns and operates the SECC, received �314,553. Picture: Comp

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Six employees at Scottish councils have made the top 10 of a UK-wide “rich list” compiled by the Taxpayers’ Alliance.

The annual Town Hall Rich List produced by the organisation gives details of senior local government staff whose salary exceeds £100,000.

The list shows that the largest remuneration package in Scotland for 2011-12 was received by South Lanarkshire Council executive director Linda Hardie who came second on the UK-wide list.

She was paid £543,538, including employee pension contributions of £427,209.

Five employees at Glasgow City Council and its subsidiary companies make the top 10 for the largest remuneration packages.

The largest pay package, excluding larger than usual, one-off payments for redundancy or retirement, was received by John Sharkey, group chief executive of SEC Ltd which owns and operates the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre. He received £314,553.

SEC is a private company whose majority shareholder is Glasgow City Council.

‘Eye-watering’

Of Scottish local authorities, Glasgow City Council has the highest number of staff paid more than £100,000.

While fewer council employees in Scotland received more than £100,000 in 2011-12 compared with the previous year, those paid more than £150,000 increased from 36 in 2010-11 to 58 in 2011-12.

Those being paid more than £250,000 rose from three employees to 12.

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It is good news that the number of senior council staff making more than £100,000 a year is finally falling, although that may only be because many authorities have finished paying eye-watering redundancy bills.

“Sadly, too many local authorities are still increasing the number of highly paid staff on their payroll, some of whom are given hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation just to move from one public sector job to another.

“Residents won’t be impressed if their council pleads poverty when it is demanding more and more council tax, only then to spend it creating more town hall tycoons.”

South Lanarkshire Council said Ms Hardie retired in April 2011.

A spokeswoman said: “The figure quoted is not a salary as such and does not in any way reflect the current salary structure at the council. Rather, it relates to a retirement which happened more than two years ago as part of wider restructuring and an ongoing savings exercise.”

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: “These figures have been artificially inflated by redundancy payments that we’ve been making as part of a voluntary severance scheme which will save £55.3 million from our wage bill every year.

“When a group claiming to represent taxpayers is furious about something that will save this city £55.3 million every year, it raises questions about its real agenda.”

Bonus

Commenting on John Sharkey, a spokesman for SEC said: “SEC Ltd is a private limited company which is profitable and whose operations are not funded by the taxpayer. The company includes Glasgow City Council as its majority shareholder along with a number of private investors.

“The total remuneration package for SEC’s CEO, John Sharkey, in 2011 included a £47,500 bonus which was in fact distributed among the SEC staff and a long-term incentive plan payment of £38,000 which has not been paid and will not be received until 2014.

“The CEO’s remuneration is set by the company’s remuneration committee which is made up of non-executive directors who apply the highest standards of corporate governance and benchmarking.”

Conservative local government spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell said such salaries should be continually reviewed to ensure they are justified.

“With many local authorities using consultants, it raises questions over why some of these employees are on such high wages if they do not already have the required expertise. With local authority budgets having to be stretched further and further, it is more important than ever that we get value for money from our council tax,” she said.

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