Roads budget cut but highways chief set for PS15,000 rise; INDEPENDENT RECOMMENDATION BRANDED 'INSULT TO THE PEOPLE'BY COUNCILLOR.
Byline: SHANE BRENNAN
A CASH-strapped council plans to give a PS15,000 pay rise to a highways boss after slashing the roads budget.
Denbighshire councillors will be asked tomorrow to vote in favour the inflationbusting pay deal - around a 20% increase - for Tony Ward.
Coming on the heels of a 6.35% council tax rise alongside cuts to make up a budget shortfall, the move has provoked anger.
But the council says it would be on shaky legal ground if it didn't increase the pay in line with new responsibilities Mr Ward has to take on.
The most recent raft of savings included a cut of PS200,000 a year for the upkeep of roads in the county.
In July, a report before councillors on the performance scrutiny committee warned that the authority needed to spend more on road repairs or it could be sued in the future.
Figures released following a Freedom of Information request showed that Denbighshire had to deal with 200 claims for damage to cars caused by poor road conditions in the last five years. Prestatyn county councillor Paul Penlington said: "A pay increase of this magnitude is an insult to the people of Denbighshire who have just been burdened with a 6.35% Council Tax increase - an increase we were told was the only way to balance the books for the year ahead.
"Suddenly it seems the cabinet have a magic money tree after all to fund senior officers pay by around 20%."
Cyffylliog resident, Kelly Ann McGregor, was left fuming when she read about the planned payrise.
Mrs McGregor had hit out at the state of the road between Cyffylliog and Ruthin last week.
She said: "As a rate payer I find it totally unacceptable that the head of highways could receive such an increase.
"I find it disgraceful that emails and phone calls are left unanswered. That is common courtesy and part of the job description."
A report to councillors warned: "Failure to pay the level of the independent evaluation for this role, could potentially lead to legal claim made against the authority as it is in breach of the agreed procedure for establishing Chief Officer Pay."
The change in the job grade will see the post holder go from a pay band of PS68,889 - PS71,002 per annum to PS84,009 - PS86,589 a year.
A spokesman for Denbighshire council said: "The post of Head of Highways and Environment salary has been re-evaluated as the job description was incorrect.
"The role had previously been evaluated based on a portfolio of services that did not include four significant areas of work: passenger transport, countryside services, street works and heritage services.
"The proposal has been submitted and endorsed by the Independent Review Panel for Wales.
"Having a fair and transparent approach to senior leadership pay will contribute towards retaining and recruiting high calibre of leaders as well as a well-motivated workforce who in turn will contribute towards achieving the corporate priorities."