A furious row has erupted over a review of top brass at Perth and Kinross Council which will see the wages of three senior figures increase by nearly nine per cent.
Councillors clashed over proposals to set new pay grades for executives – to be backdated to April this year – as part of an overhaul aimed at “strengthening leadership”.
The top tier review, which will see the vacant post of Depute Chief Executive deleted, follows an independent study by management consultants Korn Ferry and will lead to overall savings.
But a rebel Tory councillor said the decision to increase wages of directors on the day that UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a public sector pay freeze is “completely unpalatable.”
Colin Stewart said: “Increasing the pay of three executives by nearly £10,000 – or nine per cent – at this time will stick in the craw of those who have either lost income over the past eight months, or worse, lost their jobs.”
Under the new structure, the council’s Executive Director of Education and Children’s Services, Executive Director of Communities and the Director of Integrated Health and Care will see their pay rise from £111,265 to £120,901.
The £138,047 salary for the Chief Executive will remain the same.
Mr Stewart said: “Everyone working in both the public and private sector will be facing pay freezes or, at the most, only inflationary pay rises next year. None will see pay rises of this magnitude, and none of them will have it backdated to April.”
The councillor, who was earlier this year cleared of wrongdoing after allegations of bullying, was rounded on by cross-party members of the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee.
The SNP’s Tom McEwan accused Mr Stewart of leading a “personal vendetta”.
“Some of what he is saying is just factually incorrect,” he said. “Nobody is getting a pay rise. There has been a job evaluation in which people’s jobs – due to the work they do for the council – are being moved to different grades.
“So people have had a grade change, not a pay change. Is Councillor Stewart unable to understand that basic fact?”
Mr McEwan said: “It is very sad to hear this at a time when officers have been working outside the norm, outside their pay structure and outside of what their job description says.”
Leader of the Tory-led administration Murray Lyle added: “I absolutely disassociate myself from these comments.
“I think Councillor Stewart has really misunderstood the whole situation that we find ourselves. I would go as far as condemning the remarks, because I feel they are completely inappropriate.”
Mr Lyle ended the virtual meeting as Mr Stewart attempted to record his disappointment with the committee’s decision to approve the re-structure.
The report states the changes were needed following the retirement of deputy chief executive Jim Valentine and the recently announced resignation of chief executive Karen Reid.