Talks planned to resolve council officers' pay hike dispute

Suzie Morley, Conservative leader of Mid Suffolk District Council.

Suzie Morley, Conservative leader of Mid Suffolk District Council - Credit: MID SUFFOLK DISTRICT COUNCIL

Discussions are to take place between two councils sharing senior officers but divided over how much to pay them.

Babergh council has rejected a recommendation of a pay rise for its top officers to attract the best candidates for vacant roles and keep salaries competitive with others in the region.

That left the problematic situation on Thursday night for Mid Suffolk where it could have agreed to the new policy while Babergh had refused it, and left uncertainty over how the situation would progress.

Instead, the item was pulled from the agenda for Mid Suffolk to prevent that situation, and discussions will take place over how to move forward.

The recommended pay rises would see the chief executive pay bracket change from the current £118,767-£138,202 to £140,000-£160,000; director level increase from £82,170-£96,804 to £100,000-£120,000; and assistant director salaries rise from £59,658-£74,292 to £78,000-£90,000.

Mid Suffolk Conservative leader Suzie Morley said: “Babergh District Council did not vote in favour of these recommendations at their meeting on Tuesday this week.

“Whilst we are of course not bound by the decisions of Babergh District Council we do have a joint workforce and senior leadership team.

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“Having reflected on this over the last 48 hours, and following discussions with a number today, I have decided not to move this report this evening.

“This will give us more time to discuss the issues raised in the report with all councillors – both at Mid Suffolk and Babergh – and consider our next steps with our chief executive, head of human resources and Michelle Kirk from the East of England Local Government Association."

At Babergh, several councillors said if it was to be done it needed a review of all staff pay boundaries, while councillor Peter Beer said it was “morally wrong” at a time when free car parking was being reduced and council tax had increased by the highest possible level.

According to the figures, the financial impact would be £47,856 more annually than current levels.

However, Babergh leader John Ward said while he understood the concerns it “will cost a lot more if we don’t do this” because it would increase reliance on costly interim payments, and stressed that it was because “we haven’t addressed this properly over the past 10 years”.