Somerset

Somerset business boss 27% pay rise criticised by council

Somerset County Council
Image caption The leader of Somerset County Council says a pay rise of 27% is not acceptable

Plans to give a pay rise of more than £24,000 to the boss of a group tasked with improving the Somerset economy have been criticised by the council.

Chris Garcia, chief executive of the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), could see his pay jump nearly 27% from £90,729 to £115,000.

Somerset council leader John Osman said: "The pay of £90,000 is already too much so I believe it should be at least 10% less than that."

The LEP has declined to comment.

The LEP covers the Somerset, Devon, Torbay and Plymouth council areas.

'Cannot afford 25%'

The pay rise is being proposed by board members who are councillors, lawyers, and business leaders.

"I'm sorry to say that in the public sector we are not about giving 25% pay rises - even if you are very good at your job, we cannot afford 25%," added Mr Osman.

LEPs are partnerships between businesses and local authorities, which were set up in 2011 by the coalition government.

Their aim is to grow the local economy and support businesses in the region.

"The budget of the LEP itself, operationally, is £1.6m. It has four full-time members of staff and a few others who work part-time.

"If you're comparing it to how I come up with my council salaries and how the NHS has to come up with their salaries, you will find that this position is overpaid for such a small budget and such small numbers of staff," said Mr Osman.

Both Somerset County Council and Devon County Council representatives are expected to vote against the proposals at the meeting being held later.

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