AN £11,000 pay award that will increase the salary of Adur and Worthing councils’ chief executive to £115,000 was approved on Tuesday – with all but one councillor in support.
UKIP’s Charles James argued money for Alex Bailey’s rise would be better spent on Worthing Birdman, revealed earlier this month to be under review because of soaring costs.
But after questioning whether the increase represented value for taxpayers, Tories challenged his own value for money, noting his low attendance at recent meetings.
Mr James said: “I think supporting something like Worthing Birdman is a more deserving cause and will certainly bring the town more kudos than increasing the salary of the chief executive without a verifiable and accountable process.”
The Castle ward councillor criticised the background report on the recommendation, which he argued lacked independence and scrutiny.
He said it was ‘somewhat bizarre’ that one of Mr Bailey’s fellow directors had written the report and it should have instead been penned by an independent author.
After calling for more scrutiny of the chief executive’s work before making a decision, Mr James faced scrutiny himself from Conservative councillor Edward Crouch.
Mr Crouch said: “The point of value to the taxpayer is really important and it’s interesting that councillor James raises it.
“It’s lovely to see him this evening and speaking so passionately about it, even though he has one of the lowest attendances at council meetings - probably looking after his begonias, I don’t know.
“I would ask him to look at himself and would ask him if he would join me in publishing a monthly time sheet of the work he does, or risk becoming known as Worthing’s skiver in chief.”
Mr Bailey’s pay award was approved by the joint senior staff committee in September, which was initially recommended to approve a £21,000 increase.
Councillors were then told his salary was among the lowest for comparable authorities in the country, while his recent performance review had seen leaders of both councils praise his work.
Among the key achievements listed in the report included saving £330,000 in a senior management restructure, transforming the council’s digital infrastructure and setting the council’s corporate strategy.
Speaking on Tuesday, councillor Paul Yallop highlighted the overall cost was split between the councils. He said: “The cost currently is £52,000 a year and I would say ‘please give me a cost to any authority that pays less than £52,000. You won’t need much ink and much paper as there are probably hardly any. It may even be zero.”
The recommendation was supported by the Liberal Democrats, with Bob Smytherman stating he was ‘proud’ to have Mr Bailey as his chief executive.
The debate concluded with comments from leader Dan Humphreys, who told Mr James the report was ‘fact-based’ and not full of opinion.
The vote saw all councillors in favour of the increase, minus Mr James. The mayor and deputy mayor abstained as usual. The issue will need approval from Adur District Council at tonight’s full council meeting before being given the green light.
Between May 12 and September 15, Mr James attended one out of four meetings, plus one additional meeting. He branded Mr Crouch as a ‘philistine in chief’ in July for speaking out against a suggestion that the council should spend more funds on the upkeep of flower beds and the town hall.