SECRET reports relating to a potential salary increase of Arun District Council’s chief executive have been released – just weeks after press and public were barred from reading them.
The Gazette was excluded from last month’s meeting to discuss the pay of Nigel Lynn, a decision opposed by veteran Liberal Democrat councillor Dr James Walsh.
Dr Walsh said he secured a small victory after press and public were told to leave, pursuading the committee to release the majority of the exempt reports ahead of next week’s full council meeting.
Arun had previously said the reports would remain private if the committee went into private session.
Dr Walsh said: “It just shows what a charade the previous secrecy was, as everything is in the public domain, now. Nothing in it is extraordinary and I welcome the outbreak of common sense, although it took a while to get it.
“The public has a right to know what is being done with their money and what salary the chief executive is paid.”
The remuneration committee has recommended Mr Lynn’s salary be increased by three per cent to £109,508, backdated to October 3, 2015.
This recognised he ‘fully achieves all objectives set’ and had ‘excellent performance’.
An additional ‘cost of living allowance’ in line with the national local government pay settlement – expected to be one per cent – is recommended.
It was argued the exclusion was necessary because the meeting included ‘information relating to an individual’. The Gazette submitted a written statement to the committee before the meeting but was not allowed to speak before the vote was taken.
It pointed to guidance from the Information Commissioner, which stated it was ‘unlikely to be unfair’ to publicise details of senior officers, along with guidance in Arun’s own pay policy documents.
Despite releasing the papers, an Arun spokesman said the council ‘stood by’ the exclusion.
He said: “The remuneration committee resolved to move the item into exempt business as much of the detail being discussed was confidential, and for that reason Arun District Council stands by its view that it was entirely appropriate to exclude the press and public at that time as part of the confidential information included consideration of the chief executive’s annual appraisal.”
Full council will meet on Wednesday. The debate could again be private.