Three senior managers at Wales’ biggest council are to share a combined pay rise of about £100,000 as part of a major overhaul of its management structure..
Cardiff council’s city development chief officer, Neil Hanratty, will see his salary rise from £68,880 to £120,000 – a 73% increase – after being promoted to the newly created post of economic development director.
He is one of three council senior managers to receive pay hikes after being promoted to a new tier of directors created by the Labour administration.
One councillor described the situation as “a bloody disgrace”.
Chief communities officer Sarah McGill will receive a pay rise of around £32,000, with her salary increasing from £87,666 to £120,000 as the new communities, housing and customer services director.
And Christine Salter will see her wage increase around £23,000 – from £107,088 to £130,000 – after being promoted from chief corporate services officer to corporate director of resources.
External candidates from Wiltshire, Bristol and Rhondda Cynon Taf councils have been appointed to three further director posts, each with £120,000 salaries.
Another two external appointments to the posts of county solicitor (£120,000) and county clerk/monitoring officer (£120,000) have also been made subject to final checks.
Interviews for further posts created in the restructure continue.
The restructure will see the number of top-tier managers increase from 17 to 23, adding £1.1m a year to the wage bill. The council says it will be cost neutral by cutting spending on management consultants.
When the restructure was agreed by Labour last year, a report said the salaries had been benchmarked against other “core cities” and the London boroughs to “attract the best talent and experience”.
Trade unions said council staff who had seen their salaries frozen for the past three years would be angered by the pay hike enjoyed by some top bosses.
And an opposition group leader said the three internal promotions showed the high salaries offered by Cardiff had not attracted the level of candidates hoped for.
Council chief executive Jon House said he’d received more than 350 applications “from all the major core cities and from overseas for these very important positions”, while council leader Heather Joyce said there had been a “very strong field of candidates”.
In a statement, she added: “This new senior team model is an important first step towards making sure this council (is) properly accountable, able to achieve extremely difficult financial savings as well as protect jobs and services.”
Councillors have been short-listing and interviewing applicants in recent weeks after the council spent £30,000 taking out job advertisements in a national newspaper.
Conservative group leader David Walker, who sat on three of the appointment panels, said he understood the council had not received the level of applicants it had hoped for.
“The whole selection process has been disappointing,” he said.
Coun Walker said the successful internal candidates were “competent”, but added: “You have to ask the question why did we need to promote them and pay them an extra £30,000?”
Liberal Democrat group leader Judith Woodman, who also sat on three appointment panels, said the internal promotions proved the council already had the necessary talent in-house.
“What have we gained except to give these people with the talent considerably more money? It’s a bloody disgrace,” she said.
“They are very competent officers already doing most of the job that the director will do. One has to question if such a big hike in salary is really justifiable.”
Plaid Cymru councillor Neil McEvoy said: “Effectively they were doing the same job for almost half the salary.”
GMB branch secretary Ken Daniels said he was glad three “good officers” had been rehired, but it brought into question the judgement of the Labour group.
“These officers did not ask for pay rises to my knowledge. They had to go for these jobs otherwise they would have been out of a job,” he said.
Mr Daniels said a management shake-up was needed in one or two areas, such as education, but there was no guarantee any of the appointments would improve services.
“I think staff will be disgusted by it,” he said.
Unison’s regional organiser Steve Belcher added: “We objected to the huge pay increases anyway given the fact our own members are facing at best a 1% pay increase.
“There will be anger amongst our membership. If the council can, however, prove that it has saved money on consultants then that may ease some of that anger. I’ve yet to see the evidence.”
Cardiff council defends the pay rises
Cardiff council’s Labour leadership defended the senior management restructure, saying it was being delivered at “no extra cost to the budget”.
The council said it would “stop the need to use management consultants” and was being brought in to “help continue to protect frontline services and jobs as the council finds approximately £55m in savings over the next three years”.
The Echo requested an interview with council leader Heather Joyce to discuss the appointments but was told she was busy interviewing for other director posts.
In a statement, she said: “I am delighted to be able to announce that a number of appointments to the new senior team which is being delivered at no extra cost to the council budget have been made.
“We have had a lot of interest in these jobs from a very strong field of candidates from both external and internal sources and in making these appointments, the majority of which so far will see new people join the organisation, I am clear we are putting in place an excellent senior team that will demonstrate loyalty, work effectively in a member-led local authority and develop a keen understanding of the city they serve.
“I have strong, ambitious plans for Cardiff to be a world-beating capital which puts a premium on protecting the most vulnerable, creates opportunities for those who need them and is a catalyst for the city region. I am also unflinching in my commitment to protecting front-line services and the jobs of those people who deliver them, even as we find the circa £55m in savings over the next three years.
“This new senior team model is an important first step towards making sure this council properly accountable, able to achieve extremely difficult financial savings as well as protect jobs and services and I would like to congratulate everyone who has been appointed on their success and look forward to working with them closely as we continue to deliver for the people of Cardiff and Wales.”
Council chief executive Jon House said: “I can reassure members that a very strong field of candidates from private, public and third sector organisations has been interviewed.
“I am pleased to say that our internal candidates have done well against the high benchmark set in these cross-party member appointments.
“The appointments made so far are all keen to serve the capital city and I am confident the new senior team to support the leader, cabinet and council during these challenging times is being put in place.”