The first chief executive of North Yorkshire’s unitary authority should be paid less than £200,000 a year, a meeting has heard, as the kudos of the council and lifestyle opportunities in the county should also help to attract the best candidates for the role.
A meeting of senior councillors heard the salary range from £180,000 to £197,000 for the role, which involves leading a workforce of over 10,000 and a revenue spend of £1.4 billion, was broadly in line with similar authorities.
Nevertheless, alongside managing an ongoing capital programme of £350 million, North Yorkshire’s chief executive would also have responsibility for a number of companies all with separate workforces and budgets that the county council has formed to help generate money for frontline services.
Neighbouring authorities East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Cumbria County Council and Durham County Council, which all have significantly smaller populations than North Yorkshire’s 611,000 residents, pay their top officers an average of £183,000.
However, the meeting was told the proposed salary could appear “insulting” to potential candidates when compared to the £168,000 salary and performance-related pay of the chief executive at Hambleton District Council, which serves a population of less than 100,000.
Officers said the fusion of the seven district councils and the county council would create savings on chief executive salaries across the county in excess of £1 million a year,
The forecast savings follow a warning from Durham County councillor John Shuttleworth that after a unitary authority was created there in 2009 potential savings had been negated by pay rises for senior officers.
It also comes just a week after councillors were told that such was the crisis facing the labour market that despite extensive efforts to advertise the job, only one candidate had applied for the £130,000 chief fire officer role with North Yorkshire’s brigade.
Labour group leader Councillor Steve Shaw Wright said it might be worth the authority spending a little more “to get the right person”.
However, the council’s executive member for finance, Councillor Gareth Dadd told the meeting the salary and performance-related pay on offer would attract an appropriately qualified and experienced field.
He said: “What we are proposing is basically middle of the range. It’s about striking a balance.”
Coun Dadd said North Yorkshire had “far more to offer” candidates than a large salary, with a different lifestyle to other parts of the country.
Stronger communities executive member Councillor David Chance added: “Any officer worth his salt would want to come here.”
A national recruitment campaign will be launched later this month, and it is hoped the successful candidate will be selected in late July, subject to approval by the council’s members.