Rochdale council chief executive pay rise delayed

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A decision on whether Rochdale Council's chief executive should get a £40,000 pay rise has been delayed following criticism.

The council commissioned consultants Hay Group to review the salaries and roles of senior management.

It was due to vote on proposed salary increases, but the decision was delayed after more than 1,200 people signed a petition in protest.

Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk said pay rises would be "the wrong thing to do".

He added: "[The council leader] needs to be clear that this is not a partial retreat, but a full climb down.

"Local government finances have changed dramatically in recent years and the days of bumper pay rises for senior officers are over."

The Hay report recommended increasing chief executive Jim Taylor's pay from £130,000 to £170,000 in line with other Greater Manchester councils.

'Cannot be justified'

Increases were also proposed for the director of economy and environment, Mark Widdup, from £71,000 to £108,000, as well as deputy chief exec Linda Fisher and finance director Pauline Kane from £85,000 to £97,000.

The report concluded the level of pay for the majority of posts is "well below the market levels", which is "not sustainable in the long run with the council inevitably running into the associated recruitment and retention problems".

A petition started on the council's website by Peter Jackson states pay rises "cannot be justified or afforded at a time when the council has been forced to restrict pay increases for other staff to 1% and make severe reductions in front-line public services".

The council was forced to cut £94m from its budget by March 2013 and last year announced it must make further cuts of £45m, and lose 200 jobs, by 2015.

Council leader Colin Lambert said a decision on the report's recommendations has been deferred so they can "go through further thorough and comprehensive examination".

He added that the employment committee will report its findings at a specially-convened council meeting.

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