by political editor Paul Francis
Plans to publish more information about the pay and perks of senior council officers have been opposed by some Kent authorities who feared it could lead to harassment by the public, it has emerged.
The three were among dozens of councils making representations about proposals, due to take effect this year, that will mean far more information about council salaries being disclosed in annual accounts.
As a result, the Government backed down over some elements of its plans.
Gravesham council argued there should be no change to the existing rules, which require councils only to publish details of salaries in bands rather than specific figures and without naming individuals.
The council said the proposals to change to these rules were "an infringement on individual’s personal information".
It also argued the Government's plans would place councils at an unfair disadvantage compared to private sector employees, as some council managers might earn less but would still see some of their details published.
Its submission also warned taxpayers would pay the price for collecting the data to be be published as "it would require more administrative resources to pull together the required information at an increased cost to the authority, resulting in an increased cost to members of the public".
Meanwhile, Dover council flagged up concerns over the privacy of council officials, saying: "Local government employees are visible within the local community and are likely to have their pay/pensions targeted by the local press. Civil servants are not subject to the same level of scrutiny by the community within which they live."
Tonbridge and Malling council also argued names of council bosses should be kept secret, suggesting "the post title be given instead of the officers' names".
It too expressed concerns members of the public had "relatively easy access to senior officers than is likely to be the case in central government".
As a result of the lobbying, ministers agreed only those officers earning more than £150,000 will be identified by name while others below that will remain anonymous.
The Government said the rules struck the right balance.
"The taxpayer has a legitimate right to see this information and decide whether or not it is fair," said a spokesman for the Department of Communities and Local Government.