Independent researchers say that York’s last chief executive was the highest paid in all of Yorkshire – despite the council being much smaller than others in the region.
The TaxPayers’ Alliance carries out an annual investigation into the highest salaries paid by local authorities.
According to its Town Hall Rich List 2021 City of York Council chief executive Mary Weastell was paid a salary package of £193,444 in 2020-21. That’s more than Tom Riordan, chief exec of Leeds (£183,924), and the former chief exec of Sheffield, John Mothersole (£146,929).
City of York Council 100K+ salaries 2020-21
|Job title||Salary||Expenses||Sub total||Pension||Total|
|Chief Executive (Mary Weastell)||193,444||213||193,657||29,285||222,942|
|Corporate Director Health, Housing & Adult Social Care||109,268||152||109,420||23,165||132,585|
|Deputy Chief Executive & Director Customer & Corporate Services||128,150||67||128,217||27,168||155,385|
|Corporate Director Economy & Place||109,275||109,275||23,166||132,441|
|Corporate Director Children, Education & Communities||109,275||109,275||23,166||132,441|
|Director of Public Health||105,777||105,777||22,425||128,202|
|Interim Assistant Director - Legal & Governance||99,230||99,230||20,822||120,052|
Source: the TaxPayers’ Alliance
Add in the pension and expenses, and Ms Weastell received £222,942.
The TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “The biggest remuneration package in this region was received by York’s chief executive – £222,942.”
The figures have been challenged by City of York Council, who say the alliance has missed the fact that they included holiday pay and pay in lieu.
But they place focus back on the payment practises of the council – as auditors investigate the secret £400K payout to Ms Weastell.
‘Not as reported’
Debbie Mitchell, York council’s chief finance officer, said: “Our senior officer salaries reflect the responsibilities of running a large and complex organisation which provides a wide range of crucial services for over 205,000 people, and as an open council, we publish these salaries and our pay policy annually.
“Like every salary at the council, we follow nationally negotiated rates to attract the right skills, knowledge and experience to deliver quality services to the residents and businesses of York.
“As the chief executive left in March 2020, these figures also include payments in lieu of notice and outstanding holiday pay.
North Yorkshire County Council 100K+ salaries 2020-21
|Chief executive (Richard Flinton)||179,431||27,544||206,975|
|Corporate director of children and young people's services||132,528||20,344||152,872|
|Corporate director of business and environmental services||126,550||19,569||146,119|
|Corporate director (strategic resources)||126,550||19,451||146,001|
|Corporate director of health and adult services||126,550||19,427||145,977|
|Director of public health||113,951||16,460||130,411|
|Assistant chief executive (business support)||108,500||16,656||125,156|
|Assistant chief executive (legal and democratic services)||108,500||16,656||125,156|
Source: the TaxPayers’ Alliance
“This is on top of the base salary for the role of £143,940, which when compared to other authorities in the region and across the country, is not the highest annual salary as reported in the figures.
“Furthermore, since the data in the taxpayer alliance report was compiled, City of York Council has undertaken an organisational restructure with the aim of saving taxpayer money. As a result of reviewing our senior management structure, we have so far generated annual recurring savings of £200,000.”
The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) stood by its figures. It says they were sourced from the annual accounts, and that councils often don’t recognise the figures.
“The amount we use, unless otherwise specified, is the total remuneration an individual receives.
“This amount represents the total cost to the taxpayer. Salary payments alone do not take into account additional payments an employee might receive such as bonuses, benefits, loss of office and pension payments.
“These additional payments are paid to an individual by the council – therefore representing the cost to council taxpayers.”
The figures come after York council taxpayers were hit by the maximum rise in council tax – nearly 5 per cent – as well as £8 million in cuts.
Polling by the TPA found that 61 per cent of people opposed an above-inflation council tax increase this year.