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Chief's salary the 'going rate' for job

PUBLISHED: 15:43 03 May 2008 | UPDATED: 20:18 05 July 2010

The new chief executive of Suffolk County Council yesterday defended her £220,000 pay packet as "a fair salary" and "the going rate".

Andrea Hill, 44, has shrugged off the storm of criticism around her salary, which is £31,000 higher than the prime minister's.

The new chief executive of Suffolk County Council yesterday defended her £220,000 pay packet as “a fair salary” and “the going rate”.

Andrea Hill, 44, has shrugged off the storm of criticism around her salary, which is £31,000 higher than the prime minister's. In her first round of interviews after taking up the job in Suffolk, she said: “I think my salary is a fair salary for the job I am being asked to do. It involves leading 28,000 staff and a budget of £1bn. The salary is very similar to other local authorities.”

“It is the going rate for the job. I could earn three or four times that in the private sector.”

In fact her salary is among the highest for any council in the country, though not the highest - despite the fact that Suffolk is by no means among the biggest councils. The pay scale originally planned, which was £154,000 to £176,000, was 13th highest out of 273 county and district councils in the country, 34 of which are county councils. Her predecessor Mike More earned £150,000.

She said there were no negotiations about salary, and refused to be drawn on whether she would have taken the job for less money - but implied that she would not, saying: “I asked for a similar salary to what I was getting in Bedfordshire.”

She says she is “not concerned at all” about an investigation by the district auditor into whether the rules were followed properly when she was appointed. “The district auditor will find there was nothing wrong with the process.”

Mrs Hill also reassured those in towns like Halesworth and Beccles, who feel cut off from Ipswich and forgotten by the county council.

“They are important to the county. I have been struck by the commitment of county councillors when they talk about their areas.

She said that the county council's plans for “One Suffolk”, a county-wide unitary authority running all local government services, would see council services delivered more locally “in the market towns, so people feel they are more local.”

Planning for unitary status, which could happen as part of the planned local government shake-up, is clearly one of her priorities. If Suffolk gets its way, all district councils will fall by the wayside. As part of this, she wants to see town and parish councils making decisions on planning applications in their towns and villages, rather than district councils as at present. She said: “They should be able to decide on developments that will affect how their area looks.”

She said One Suffolk was the best option for the county: “Wherever you live in Suffolk there would be just one council providing the services. It would also mean Suffolk has one voice and more clout with central government, more of a voice to get things like better roads. One council would be able to be more efficient, which means lower council tax.”

And she pledged to make Lowestoft “the national centre for alternative energy”, continuing the work already begun with the Orbis Energy development. “We want to get investment into Lowestoft, attract new businesses to come to Lowestoft, to create a cluster of businesses all around renewable energy. It would be a huge boost to Suffolk.”

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