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New Forest District and Hampshire County councils' top earners revealed in Town Hall Rich List

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HAMPSHIRE County Council's highest earners have been revealed in the latest TaxPayers' Alliance annual Town Hall Rich List.

The data shows the authority's outgoing chief executive John Coughlan received a £530,761 renumeration package in 2020-21 – the biggest in the South East and the fourth highest in the UK. He took home a £231,115 salary and received £299,646 in pension contributions.

Along with Kent, HCC also topped the regional polls for having the most employees to be handed pay deals in excess of £100,000 – a total 26 each.

BCP Council's boss Graham Farrant earned £188,649 for the year, while the former NFDC chief executive Bob Jackson took a wage of £121,371 and a £22,332 pension contribution.

In the context of many families now facing a cost of living crisis, campaign group the TaxPayers' Alliance is calling on local authorities to stop council tax rises and cut wasteful spending on "pet projects" and "unnecessary pay rises" for town hall chiefs.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said taxpayers struggling to make ends meet will want to know they are getting "value for money from their local authority leadership".

“With households having suffered through the pandemic and now struggling under colossal tax bills, the country needs councils to prioritise key services without resorting to punishing tax hikes," he said.

HCC topped the regional polls for having the most employees to be handed pay deals in excess of £100,000
HCC topped the regional polls for having the most employees to be handed pay deals in excess of £100,000

“These figures will allow residents to judge town hall bosses for themselves and hold their local councils to account.”

All three councils say salaries are "appropriate" and comparative with other public sector organisations of a similar size, and needed to be competitive.

A spokesperson for HCC said: "Employing approximately 10,000 people directly and many more indirectly, Hampshire County Council is one of the largest public sector organisations in the country, serving 1.4-million residents, spending over £2billion per year on the delivery of a wide range of complex and essential public services.

"County council rates of pay are competitive in order to recruit, retain and motivate the best people, and to deliver value for money for the taxpayer.”

New Forest District Council's HQ in Lyndhurst
New Forest District Council's HQ in Lyndhurst

An NFDC spokesperson said: "With the exception of apprentices, pay for all staff, including chief officers, is formally discussed and consulted upon at the Employee Side Liaison Panel before recommendations are taken forward to the HR committee, which make recommendations to council."

BCP Council leader Cllr Drew Mellor said: “Pay and remuneration is determined objectively using various job evaluation factors, including the skills and knowledge required to deliver the job effectively.

“It is imperative that our council is able to attract and retain high quality talent to ensure we are able to achieve our ambitious agenda for Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole and be the best we can be for our communities.”

The figures also showed that, during the pandemic, the number of local government employees across the UK receiving more than £100,000 in packages went up by 119 to 2,921. The number of staff taking pay deals of more than £150,000 also rose by 46 from the previous year.

The top earner nationally was former chief executive of Croydon council, Jo Negrini, whose remuneration totalled £613,895. This is despite the council effectively declaring bankruptcy in November 2020. She received a loss of office payment of £144,356.

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