Pressure mounts to appoint new Essex County Council chief executive on a lower salary

Joanna Killian

Joanna Killian - Credit: Archant

Essex County Council is set to come under pressure to appoint its successor to chief executive Joanna Killian on a salary considerably lower than the £210,000 she has been paid.

Ms Killian is one of the highest-paid council chiefs in the country, even though she accepted two pay cuts totalling £27,000 a year, three years ago.

Now Ivan Henderson, deputy leader of the Labour group at County Hall, has said the authority must be mindful of its lower paid staff when setting the terms for the chief executive’s replacement.

Mr Henderson said: “Any replacement and review of salary should take into account comments made at the budget that the administration couldn’t afford to pay their own staff the living wage.

“What message does that send to all staff working below the chief executive, doing just as important jobs delivering public services?

“You cannot have one rule for one person and another rule for another.

“There must be control over pay at the top if there is to be this control on pay at the bottom.”

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For five years, until 2012, Ms Killian was also chief executive of Brentwood Borough Council in addition to her duties at County Hall.

Her salary hit the headlines at a time when local government costs came under the spotlight – when then Suffolk County Council chief Andrea Hill was earning £218,000 a year.

Ms Killian has been chief executive at Essex County Council since 2006 and is leaving the authority to become a partner at accountancy giant KPMG.

No timetable for her departure has yet been agreed, and a spokesman for Essex County Council said it was far too early to talk about the process of recruitment or the likely salary of her successor.

After the departure of Mrs Hill from Suffolk, her successor Deborah Cadman was appointed on a salary of £155,000 a year.

Dia Chakravarty, political director of the Tax Payers’ Alliance said: “Eyebrows will always be raised when council executives are taking home more than the Prime Minister.

“The important thing is that tax payers get to see what they’re getting for their money, so new rules that will make performance appraisals open to public scrutiny are very welcome indeed.

“Ultimately money is tight, and as much as possible we need to focus resources on essential services, not puffed-up pay packets.”