COUNCILS across Hampshire have been criticised for raising taxes and cutting services rather than reducing the pay of senior officers.

Dozens of council employees across the county earned more than £100,000 in 2017/18, the TaxPayers’ Alliance annual report has revealed.

The group’s chief executive said despite many in the public sector facing a  pay freeze to help bring the public finances under control, many town hall bosses are continuing to pocket “huge remuneration packages”.

The news comes after in February both Hampshire County Council (HCC) and Southampton City Council (SCC) increased council tax by 2.99%.

According to the latest TaxPayers’ Alliance’s Town Hall Rich List, 18 HCC employees were paid more than £100,000 in 2017/18.

Among those there were chief executive John Coughlan with £216,195; deputy chief executive and director of corporate resources Carolyn Williamson with £180,019 and director of children’s services Steve Crocker and director of adults’ health and care Graham Allen who both earned £153,015.

The director of community, culture and business services and the director of economy, trasport and environment, whose names were not disclosed, were both paid £144,783 followed by the director of transformation and governance with £131,361.

Eleven other staff members, whose names and roles were not revealed, received a salary between £127,500 and £102,500.

Some senior officers who worked for SCC between 2017/18 were also among those listed in the annual report.

According to the data, the chief executive Dawn Baxendale, who left in December 2017, was on annual salary of  £181,977.

Southampton’s  chief strategy officer received  £145,016; the chief operations officer £138,414 and the service director: legal and governance  £111,175.

The service director: finance and commercialisation was paid £103,487 and the joint director of publich health received £103,059 while another employee whose name and roles were not disclosed pocketed £102,500.

Three Test Valley Borough Council employees were also on the list, including its chief executive Roger Tetstall who received £138,000 for its salary and £9,000 as expenses.

Chief executive at Eastleigh Borough Council, Nick Tustian, and the authority’s head of revenue and benefits pocketed £108,414 and £108,133 respectively while  the chief executive of Winchester City Council was the authority’s only employee who earned more than £100,000 with a salary of £108,000.

Overall the number of senior council officers across the county who were paid more then £100,000 has gone down from the previous year, when ten SCC employees and 21 HCC employees made it to the list.

But John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, hit at the authorities and said: “There are talented people in the public sector who are trying to deliver more for less, but the sheer scale of these packages raise serious questions about efficiency and priorities.”

None of the New Forest District Council employees was on the list.

A spokesperson for Hampshire County Council, said: “It’s important to note that the roles of a number of our most senior officers now go beyond the delivery of services on behalf of just Hampshire County Council (the third largest shire council in the country, serving 1.3 million residents). These positions are also responsible for the delivery of a range of services to a number of other local authorities and public sector partners – generating gross income of £130 million.

 “The council remains vigilant in bearing down on its costs and staffing. Over the last ten years, our efficiencies and innovation programmes have delivered nearly £500 million of revenue savings.  Overall levels of senior management have reduced, with the roles they undertake now ever larger, and more complex.

“We need to recruit and retain the best senior officers but in doing so we constantly ensure that our rates of pay are competitive, but sustainable.”