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Kent County Council defends number of top earners in town hall rich list survey

Kent County Council has defended the number of people it employs earning more than £100,000, saying it needs the best people to manage important services.

The council has 21 senior managers earning more than £100,000 according to ‘The Town Hall Rich List’, an annual survey of councils’ top earners conducted by the campaign group Taxpayers’ Alliance.

That was the highest figure for any council in the south east.

Cllr John Simmonds
Cllr John Simmonds

Cllr John Simmonds (Con), KCC’s cabinet finance member, said: “We are the largest county council, so in a sense it is no surprise that we are top of the list. For example, we have 34,000 adults needing social care and that carries a big responsibility."

He added: "I think what we have got is pretty reasonable. We have recently take out the community services directorate, saving us money.”

He said the council’s move to outsource a swathe of services to save money would not necessarily mean it could further reduce the numbers on six-figures salaries.

“I do not expect any significant reduction. If we do go down this route, the skills will be in managing contracts and making sure they are delivered.”

He pointed out that Essex County Council, which is smaller than Kent, had 30 senior officer earning more than £100,000.

KCC’s biggest earner in 2012-13 was David Cockburn, corporate director for business strategy, who earned £187,719.

Education director Patrick Leeson earned £159,075 while Amanda Honey, who was communities director but has recently left the authority in a re-organisation, received £159,075.

The Taxpayers Alliance said it was good news the number of people earning more than £100,000 was falling but too many councils were increasing the number of executives.

“Sadly, too many local authorities are still increasing the number of highly paid staff on their payroll. It’s particularly galling in places where councils are pleading poverty and demanding more and more in council tax,” said Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the campaign group.

The KM Group recently revealed that KCC had spent £6.5m in redundancy costs and exit packages over two years.

Medway Council, a unitary authority, employed 13 senior officers earning more than £100,000 over the same period.However, in most districts and boroughs, the number was in single figures.

Numbers earning more than £100,000 by district and borough council:

  • Ashford:3
  • Canterbury: 4
  • Dartford: 4
  • Dover: 2
  • Gravesham: 3
  • Maidstone: 4
  • Shepway: 3
  • Swale:4
  • Tunbridge Wells: 3
  • Tonbridge and Malling: 5
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