A pay rise of more than £6,000 for Arun District Council’s chief executive was approved last night despite calls for the increase to be limited out of fairness for staff (Wednesday, January 11).
Councillors approved a rise in Nigel Lynn’s salary from £110,603 to £117,011 by a majority of 27 votes to six, with 12 abstentions.
The Liberal Democrats were defeated in their attempt to limit the 5.79 per cent increase to one per cent, in line with the annual increase for most staff.
Staff watched proceedings from the public gallery, amid claims there was ‘anger’ in the workforce over the increase.
Lib Dem deputy leader Dan Purchese said: “None of this is about the chief executive as a person or his performance. This is about fairness and I stand by that.”
Mr Lynn will receive a performance-related rise of three per cent. He was judged in his appraisal to have performed exceptionally.
A further £3,000 lump sum was approved to bring his salary into line with those of chief executives of comparative councils.
With deputy chief executive Nigel Croad leaving next month, Mr Lynn will also be taking on additional duties.
A panel of six councillors recommended the increase at a meeting in December.
Arun leader Gill Brown said: “Of course we have to be careful with public money when we are agreeing increases like this but we also have to agree a fair salary that reflects the rate for the job and takes into account how well the person has performed over the past five years – and I believe he has performed exceedingly well.”
Paul Dendle, cabinet member for leisure and amenities, said Arun could lose Mr Lynn if they did not pay him adequately.
He warned the council would be in ‘dire trouble’ if it had to recruit a new chief amid its programme of saving £4million by 2020.
Fellow cabinet member Terry Chapman said agreeing to the Lib Dem’s call ‘on a whim’ could have ‘serious contractual implications’ for the council.
Staff ‘anger’ over rise
Labour’s Mike Northeast, meanwhile, argued the council was only as good as its staff.
He said: “When that famous phrase ‘we are all in this together’ was quoted some six years ago, we have seen cut after cut after cut in this authority, while our loyal staff who have remained have seen their pay rise no more than one per cent as again this year.
“Why is it now right to pay the CEO six per cent and all the other staff only one per cent?”
Mr Northeast claimed there was an ‘overwhelming sense of anger’ among staff, with one writing a letter to Mr Lynn outlining her concerns.
Francis Oppler, leader of the Lib Dem group, said: “Public and staff alike have been appalled at this proposal. We must take heed of their views.”
Unison branch secretary Brian Walter was among those in the public gallery.
In a public question, he asked Mrs Brown to accept the achievement of the chief executive’s targets was not done without the work of staff.
He said: “(Does the leader) understand the anger of staff when they feel undervalued by their employer, despite the council’s expressed views that they do value staff.”
Following the meeting, an Arun spokesman said: “Councillors voted to award a single payment of £3000 and, in addition, a performance-related pay award of three per cent.
“This means the chief executive remuneration will be set at £117,011 for the period October 3, 2016, to October 2, 2017, which is very close to the average salary for district council chief executives in the south east and will still remain below the remuneration paid to the council’s previous chief executive over five years ago.”