New chief exec voted in

By Ian Dipple Thursday 13 February 2014 Updated: 14/02 09:59

THE ASSISTANT chief executive of Worcestershire County Council is set to take over control of the authority, despite criticism the move is a waste of money.

Clare Marchant has spent four years at County Hall as deputy to outgoing boss Trish Haines who will take early retirement from the top job in April, with a £95,000 pay out which allows her to leave on a full pension

There will be an immediate saving to the council as Ms Marchant will take up the role on a salary of £150,000 instead of the £176,678 a year paid to Mrs Haines who has spent six years with the authority.

But the decision has been heavily criticised by Labour councillors who say the appointment is unjustified when the council is looking to save more than £100million over the next three years and hundreds of workers face losing their jobs.

Coun Peter McDonald, leader of the Labour group on the county council, said they would abolish the post if they won control of the authority in 2017.

"The role of chief executive is not a legal requirement and the county council can easily function without one saving thousands of pounds a year that could be spent on providing much need services," he said.

"They have got their priorities wrong, looking after the young, elderly, and vulnerable and those relying on public transport should come before paying out such grotesque salaries, at a time when families are having to make choices between food on the table or heating their homes."

During a debate at County Hall yesterday (Thursday) where the appointment was approved Coun Graham Vickery, who represents Redditch North, said as the authority was smaller there was a need to review whether or not the chief executive's salary should be reviewed.

But Coun John Campion, responsible for transformation and commissioning, said by opposing the appointment Labour were sending the message the chief executive would not have their support.

"We employ hundreds of people and spend millions of pounds of public money and we need top people to do the job and that means a top salary," he said.

Council leader Adrian Hardman said Ms Marchant would bring a wealth of knowledge to the role.

"We have reduced the salary by ten per cent, we have taken a considerable amount of advice on this but it is a competitive business to get a top chief executive and in Ms Marchant we have undoubtedly got the value councillor Vickery so eloquently described and I have every confidence in this appointment."

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