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Cash-strapped Fareham Borough Council gives chief executive £17,000 pay rise
A HAMPSHIRE council is to give its chief executive a pay rise despite needing to find £800,000 in savings.
Fareham Borough Council is awarding chief executive Peter Grimwood a potential staggered salary increase over the next five years that would take his annual pay to £125,000 - £17,000 more than his current salary.
This comes a week after the council said it needed to find “significant” savings to meet a budget shortfall of £800,000 by April 2015 and would be considering a jobs “restructure” alongside reducing service costs.
An independent review was conducted for the council, which compared Mr Grimwood's salary with other district councils across the south east and recommended the new salary scale of £108,000 to £125,000.
His current pay is £107,574 a year.
Lib Dem opposition leader Paul Whittle said the timing just a week after the council announced a review of jobs was “insensitive” to other staff.
“We would support appropriate remuneration and rewards for staff be they the chief executive or more frontline staff,” he said.
“It's a difficult time therefore it's disappointing to be feeling that we as elected members of the residents are being asked to consider reward for some staff when other staff may feel their jobs are at some risk.
“The amount of money being committed on an ongoing basis would be the difference potentially between one of our frontline staff being kept in employment or not.”
Cllr Whittle did not dispute the findings of the independent report in terms of the amount.
Council leader Sean Woodward disputed that it was a £17,000 pay rise because it was a pay progression awarded on performance.
He said Mr Grimwood had reached the top of his pay range so had got another that the council had been advised was appropriate.
He said the amount Mr Grimwood would receive next year, around £111,000, would be a 3 per cent increase whereas 118 staff due to their pay scale will get a 3.7 per cent increase.
Cllr Woodward said with two huge projects, 6,000 homes at Welborne, north of Fareham, and the Daedalus Enterprise Zone, and £800,000 in savings to find, the pay reflected the challenges Mr Grimwood faced.
He added that Mr Grimwood had worked to save the council £3m in the last three years.
He said he would rather pay a high performing chief executive more now than face the greater cost of having to replace him if he went to a better paid role.
Cllr Woodward added that in terms of the council's £50m budget the amount was very small and it had to be “put into some perspective”.
“Nothing's ever the right time,” he said.
“The right time to make savings, to review somebody's salary.”
A council officer's report now made public says that senior managers, including the chief executive, have not had a pay rise since April 2008.
Alongside a review of the chief executive's salary, it also recommended a one per cent pay increase across senior management this year in line with other employees.
The proposals were agreed by councillors at a full council meeting.
The officer's report said the costs of the proposals can be contained within existing budgets - the budget for employee costs in 2013/14 is £9.4 million.
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