Cardiff council has promoted a senior manager to be its temporary top official after dropping plans to appoint Boris Johnson’s ex-special adviser – saving taxpayers’ £20,000.
Christine Salter will be paid an extra £11,000 for six months work as interim head of paid service, based on the authority’s honorarium payment scheme, on top of her £130,000 salary.
This compares with the £30,000 Sir Peter Rogers was to be paid for 30 days of part-time work spread out over three months.
Sir Peter’s salary was to be paid by the Welsh Local
Government Association (WLGA) after it privately struck a deal with the council’s Labour leadership.
But following an outcry from trade unions representing council staff, as well as criticism from Labour back benchers, the proposal was yesterday abandoned.
Mrs Salter – who recently received a pay rise of about £23,000 – will take the top job while a permanent successor to outgoing chief executive Jon House is found.
Mr House, who is paid £184,000 plus £40,000 in pension contributions, has quit to join accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers after three years in Cardiff.
The cabinet had indicated its preference to replace the chief executive post with a “city director” on a lower salary and with fewer external responsibilities.
That idea was also scrapped at yesterday’s cabinet meeting following criticism.
The cabinet instead accepted the recommendation of the policy review and performance scrutiny committee to replace like-for-like.
Council leader Heather Joyce did not talk about her reasons for the change of heart. It was left to Mr House to tell the meeting that Mrs Salter had “volunteered to step forward” for the temporary promotion.
He said Andrew Kerr, the council’s operations director and touted by many for the interim post, provided “vital stability” to many services and there was “nobody who could backfill his position”.
Mrs Salter’s new job title and pay will be confirmed at a meeting of the full council at City Hall this evening.
The council hopes to appoint a new chief executive, whose pay will be set by the employment conditions committee this morning, in late September.
Mr House said he had thoroughly enjoyed his time at Cardiff council, saying that the city had made “good progress over the past three years”.
Turning to Coun Joyce, he said he understood the “loneliness” of being a leader, adding that the arrival of the new tranch of £120,000
directors would improve the authority’s capacity to tackle its financial challenges.