Wales Online yesterday published its annual Town Hall Rich List and yet again it was staggering reading. Cardiff’s Chief Executive is paid out a hefty salary of £177,000 with my home county of Carmarthenshire paying out a generous £176,000 and the poor Chief of Blaenau Gwent receives a paltry £104,000- it must be a hard life.
Now I must add I have hardly any clue about the internal dynamics of how councils work. I know how the democratic chambers work but little about the directors and chiefs- but is that not a problem? The county I reside in currently, that of Ceredigion, has a Chief Executive who gets paid £110,000 to run a county of just 73,000 people. That is quite extraordinary. Yet there does not seem to be much scrutiny- I am pretty engaged in local and political affairs and I have not a clue who he or she is.
Yet even though I know little about the internal structure I still feel entitled to offer my ill-informed opinions- I do after all pay council tax to an organisation that cannot seem to collect my bins on a given day or take down “Stay At Home” signage from May. I also had my food waste bin stolen during lockdown but I cannot for the life of me get a new one with the council building still closed and now turned into a drive-through COVID testing centre.
It is the principle of it that stinks for me. How can it be that the Chief Executive of a County Council responsible for just 188,000 residents be paid nearly £30,000 more than the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom responsible for nearly 70 million people? It is patently daft.
I am all for good salaries to attract good people to good jobs but the gross inconsistencies within public sector executive pay structures makes me feel a little nauseous- after all you and I could end up in prison for 3 months for not paying our council tax.
In Wales, political activists often point to the expense of the Welsh Parliament. The cost is pittance compared to the obscene sums paid out in county and town halls. I suggest they turn their attention to this far bigger scandal.