Minister urges Suffolk County Council chief to take pay cut

A GOVERNMENT minister has added his voice to calls for Suffolk County Council leader Andrea Hill to take a cut in her �218,000-a-year salary.

Local government minister Grant Shapps made the statement on the day a government-sponsored report into top public servants' pay was published.

But council leader Jeremy Pembroke issued a strong defence of his chief executive, praising her 'experience, drive and ability to deliver'.

Mr Shapps, who is minister of state at the Department of Communities and Local Government, referred to news that the council had spent several thousand pounds on a 'change' consultant.

He said: 'Every council must subject itself to the full glare of public scrutiny and justify how every penny is spent.

'Spending money on life coaches or banning journalists from asking questions in our new era of transparency is unacceptable.

'Andrea Hill needs to do the right thing and make a personal commitment to protecting frontline services by taking a pay cut.'

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However, county council leader Jeremy Pembroke said 'The role of chief executive at Suffolk County Council is complex and very challenging. It requires an individual with a track record for excellence, with the experience, drive and ability to deliver. In Andrea Hill we have that person.'

Mrs Hill has previously come under fire for her salary, which is higher than the �142,000-a-year paid to Prime Minister David Cameron. The basic salary of Norfolk County Council chief executive David White is �205,300.

It comes as the county council presses ahead with budget cuts of �42m which will see funding withdrawn from school crossing patrols, bus services and a number of libraries and youth clubs.

The latest development comes as the government published a report by top economist Will Hutton into public sector pay pay.

Mr Hutton said it would be wrong to impose a 'cap' on the earnings of top public servants – but at least 10pc of their salary should be held back until the end of the financial year and only paid if pre-set targets are met. The report says it is vital that information about top salaries is published.

Earlier this year a petition was started on Suffolk County Council's website calling for Mrs Hill's salary to be cut, but it was taken down after just one day. The authority said that the 'petition was inappropriate as it was calling for the council to take action which it is not lawfully able to take'.