Thursday 19th October 2017,
North Yorks Enquirer

Secret Scarborough Council Officer Pay Rise?

The North Yorks Enquirer has had an anonymous tip off that all five senior officers at Scarborough Borough Council (SBC) have received a large pay rise around the start of the year. The pay rise is reputed to be worth £7,500 to each of the senior officers.

The news will likely be greeted with dismay by many at the council. The rest of the workforce has been in protracted negotiations regarding an annual rise for the year, with industrial action currently being balloted by their union.

The senior SBC officers said to have received the large pay rise around the start of the year are:

  • Jim Dillon – Chief Executive and Head of Paid Service
  • Hilary Jones – Deputy Chief Executive
  • Nicholas Edwards – Director of Business Support & S151 Officer
  • Lisa Dixon – Director of Democratic and Legal Services & Monitoring Officer
  • Andy Skelton – Director of Service Delivery

Did A Committee Decide?

Under normal circumstances, and according the SBC Constitution, pay rises for senior council officers are decided upon by elected members at full council.

The Constitution states that ‘Only the Council will exercise‘ the matter of the ‘appointment, dismissal and terms and conditions of the Chief Executive (Head of Paid Service), the Deputy Chief Executive and Directors‘. Given that the matter of chief officers pay for 2014/15 has not been on the agenda, full council appears not to be responsible for the pay rises.

Another SBC committee which may have the power to decide upon chief officers pay for 2014/15 is the Appointments Committee. It was this committee which signed off an item about chief officers pay for 2013/14 on the 5th September 2013, but this committee has not met since, nor are there any minutes for that meeting, so it is difficult to say whether the pay rises have been signed off by this committee, but ultimately full council should decide anyway.

Browsing the Constitution at SBC reveals another committee that could, perhaps should have signed off the pay rise. The Chief Officers’ and Co-opted Members Appointments Committee has been listed in the Constitution since 2008, but the committee appears never to have met, so quite why it remains in the Constitution is anyone’s guess.

Did A Person Decide?

SBC uses the cabinet system. Elected members that are part of the cabinet are given a portfolio to manage. It is well known that cabinet members can decide upon certain matters without consulting the council, providing the cost of the expenditure is less than £140,000.

Although it is doubtful that the Constitution can be interpreted in such a way as to give a cabinet member the power to decide upon senior officer pay, perhaps a cabinet member has been advised by an officer they do have the power as it is part of their portfolio. If that is the case, then whose portfolio could it fall under?

Tom Fox, as leader of the council, appears to be able to decide upon most things, but was he responsible for signing off the pay rises for senior officers?

Penny Marsden, as the cabinet member responsible for Human Resources, could be perceived to have the remit to decide upon staff pay rises, but was she responsible for signing off pay rises for senior officers?

Jane Kenyon-Miller, as the cabinet member responsible for Finance, could be perceived to have the remit to decide upon financial matters, but was she responsible for signing off pay rises for senior officers?

Questions have been asked and emails have been sent, but no denials or rebuttals have been received thus far.

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