Eric Pickles sparked a row on “fat cat” pay with one of the Conservatives’ own councils last night. Responding to a tweet from the editor of Political Scrapbook, the local government secretary called the wage of Lancashire County Council’s new chief executive “wrong and excessive”. Council leader Geoff Driver offered new boss Phil Halsall a massive £65k pay hike just days after sending voluntary redundancy notices to 24,000 workers.
With a wage of £195,000, Phil Halsall’s package will be the same as outgoing boss Ged Fitzgerald after a controversial internal appointment. Halsall will earn £52,500 more than David Cameron despite the post not being advertised because Tory boss Geoff Driver said he could not “justify the time or expense”. The council is slashing £180m as it faces losing up to a quarter of its total budget.
One local source told Scrapbook last night:
“Lancashire broke their pay structure to bring the previous Chief Exec on board. This is like Wayne Rooney leaving Manchester United and paying his lesser replacement the same wages.”
Branding the pay package “excessive”, Labour councillor Ciaran Wells (@ci_wells) responded to Pickles’ comments:
“It shouldn’t take a Yorkshireman to point this out to us in Lancashire.”