The Communities and Local Government Select Committee has been holding an investigation into the remuneration of local authority chief executives. In some ways it is odd that they should be holding it as most Labour MPs on the committee have been stressing how unconcerned they are about it.
Recently evidence was given by Jonathan Isaby of the Taxpayers’ Alliance. Having summoned Mr Isaby they stressed what a waste of time the topic was. The Committee Chairman, the Labour MP for Sheffield South East, Clive Betts said:
Generally, it is not a cause for concern, is it?
Then more Labour MPs told Mr Isaby not to fuss. Chris Williamson, the Labour MP for Derby North (and Caracas Central) said:
“I knock on doors on a regular basis, as you will appreciate; as a local elected Member of Parliament in a marginal seat. I am out quite regularly, and nobody has ever raised this on the doorstep with me.”
Next it was David Heyes, the Labour MP for Ashton-under-Lyne – which comes under Tameside Council – to stir up apathy:
My constituency is almost next door to Simon’s, and I have not had a single concern expressed to me.
However the Labour MP for Rochdale, Simon Danczuk, told the committee:
Just briefly to make my position clear: there is no doubt that public opinion in Rochdale ran very high in relation to the council leader’s proposal to dramatically increase chief officers’ pay.
So why should this be a concern in Rochdale but not in Sheffield, Derby or Tameside. Mr Danczuk thought it was due to the proposed increase. In a way that’s right – but probably more because it highlighted the existing level of CEO pay at the town hall.
In Rochdale the Labour council thought a pay rise for their chief executive from £130,000 to £170,000 was justified.
Labour-run Sheffield City Council pays its chief executive £184,588 a year – that’s basic salary before we get on to gold plated pension, expenses and the extra fee for serving as a Returning Officer.
It turns out Rochdale Council were on to something. Their Chief Executive, trying to scrape by of £130,000, was underpaid – compared to his counterparts in Sheffield, Derby and Tameside.
The lack of concern being celebrated by Labour MPs – representing constituencies in the latter authorities – is that the matter has not had the same exposure. If it was, those Labour MPs might come under more pressure to explain their curious brand of socialist redistribution – involving extortionate Council Tax bills for low paid workers to finance fat cat public sector pay.