Bristol City Council official paid £280k, report finds

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Donald GrahamImage source, LDRS
Image caption,
Interim director of homes and landlord services, Donald Graham was the highest earner, paid £280,634 between 2021 and 2022

A council official cost £280,000 last year, according to an authority's annual draft statement.

Interim director of homes and landlord services Donald Graham cost £280,634 between 2021 and 2022, almost £100,000 more than Bristol City Council's chief executive Mike Jackson.

The report to the audit committee has sparked concerns from councillors.

Bristol City Council said the salaries of its top officers reflected their roles and responsibilities.

The council said salaries were agreed by the cross-party HR committee and the amount paid to Mr Graham was the cost incurred to hire him on an interim basis and not the amount he had actually received, which would have been lower after a cut to a third party, such as a recruitment firm.

Contractors also do not receive pay for holiday or sick leave or employer's pension contributions.

They also said a number of positions had been cut, saving taxpayers £1m per year.

Exit payments

Asking a meeting on 26 July whether Mr Graham's position could be filled on a permanent basis to avoid expensive agency fees, conservative councillor Jonathan Hucker said Mr Graham had been paid "considerably more" than chief executive Mike Jackson, who received £174,073.

Councillor Hucker said: "The council's use of interims is one of the reasons there is a lack of clarity in its pay policy," The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) said.

Chief financial officer, Denise Murray who received a £125,000 salary said Mr Graham was now an employee "so you will see a reduction in that amount for future years".

The report also revealed exit payments rose from £159,000 the previous year to £1m, with one unnamed former officer on a six-figure salary receiving a £120,00 pay off.

There were 67 exit payments in 2021-22, compared to 15 the year before.

Ms Murray said the increase in exit packages was because of the implementation of the authority's succession planning policy, which allowed those who wanted to leave to do so and allowed junior colleagues to step into their roles.

The report also revealed the number of council employees earning at least £50,000, had risen by more than a quarter from 198 to 268, with those on more than £100,000 doubling from four to eight, excluding temporary or agency staff who tended to cost more.

Image source, LDRS
Image caption,
The report also revealed exit payments also rose from £159,000 the previous year to £1m

According to the report, children and family services director Sarah Parker was among the high earners, earning at least £150,000 pro-rata and was paid £55,000 for a maximum of three-months' work.

Others included property service manager Patricia Barry who was paid £142,300 from August 2021 to March 2022, head of financial planning Alan Layton who earned £78,200 between November and March and director of adults transformation J Blackburn, who was paid £30,932 in February and March.

The highest-paid interim officer, clean air zone communication and engagement director Nicki Beardmore had cost the council £218,005 in the previous 12 months.

Both directors of management of place Patsy Mellor and workforce and change director John Walsh had salaries of £125,000.

Among the council's senior employees, executive director of growth and regeneration Stephen Peacock was paid £172,413 plus a £12,046 pension contribution.

Executive director of people Hugh Evans earned £140,793 with £29,566 for his pension, taking his remuneration package to £170,359.

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