ARUN District Council chief executive Nigel Lynn will receive a three per cent pay rise after councillors approved proposals last night (Wednesday, January 14).
Mr Lynn’s salary will rise from £106,318 to £109,508, following the resolution by full council.
Liberal Democrat councillors argued for a one per cent rise, in line with ‘most staff members’, but were defeated.
Supporters of the three per cent performance-related rise argued Mr Lynn was a ‘strong leader’ and had met targets.
Lib Dem deputy leader James Walsh said: “It’s a great pity we can’t have a referendum on this, because I know what the answer would be.
“It’s about giving the right signals that we value all of Arun’s staff equally.”
Reports to full council noted Mr Lynn’s salary was the lowest for a chief executive in West Sussex, despite being one of the largest in the area in terms of population.
Councillor Norman Dingemans said: “I think the record that the chief executive has demonstrated over the time he has been with us deserves more than one per cent, which still leaves him lower than anybody else in similar authorities.”
Councillor Phil Hitchins said Mr Lynn was a ‘strong leader’ and if the council paid ‘rubbish’ it ‘would get rubbish’.
Tory cabinet member Paul Dendle said they were working with the realities of a market economy, noting planning officers had left Arun as salaries were better elsewhere.
But others couuld not accept the increase.
The Lib Dem amendment was supported by Conservative member Emma Neno, Labour’s Mike Northeast and UKIP’s Colin Cates and Ann Rapnik.
Conservative councillors Christopher Hughes, Mike Warren and chairman Andy Cooper abstained, along with Lib Dem Paul Wells.
Mr Northeast said: “What sort of message is that giving out to staff? We can reward one man but can’t reward other members of staff.”
Lib Dem Ian Buckland said Mr Lynn should ‘be able to survive’ on his current salary, while organisations could not function without lower-ranking staff.
Conservative cabinet member and renumeration committee member Terry Chapman argued the amendment was ‘inaccurate’.
He pointed to a briefing note, which outlined how some staff on lower wages would receive a larger increase to account for adjustments to minimum wage.
The debate was conducted in public, following last month’s private chief executive renumeration committee meeting.
This newspaper had argued against the exclusion, which Arun confirmed would mean reports discussed by the committee would remain private.
But the committee later ruled the majority of reports could be publicised.
Dr Walsh, who voted against the initial exemption, said Arun had got its ‘knickers in a twist’ over this issue, which he described as a ‘mistake’ that had now been rectified.
Fellow Lib Dem Dan Purchese said: “What’s happening now, taking this in public, should have happened at the committee.
“I welcome the fact that after the committee that the documents were put in, thanks in no small part to the press and Dr Walsh, into the public domain.
“The comparison to Worthing (which held similar meetings in public) is fair. They did their appraisal in private but the substance should have been put into the public domain.”
Mr Lynn’s salary will also be subject to a cost of living increase alongside other staff. The level has yet to be agreed but was effectively one per cent for 2015/16.