Sedgemoor to Scrutinise Chief Exec’s Pay Award

Monday, 18 January 2016
Kerry Rickards, Sedgemoor;s 'well paid' Chief Executive following 'additional responsibilities
Kerry Rickards, Sedgemoor;s ‘well paid’ Chief Executive following ‘additional responsibilities

Following public concern and speculation in the media about recent senior officer pay awards at Sedgemoor District Council when it was revealed that Chief Executive Kerry Rickards has been given a pay increase that almost puts him in line with the Prime Minister and overtakes some cabinet ministers, the Corporate Scrutiny Committee has unanimously voted to calla special meeting to review and scrutinise the decision

Proposing the review at today’s Corporate Scrutiny Committee, Chairman Cllr Brian Smedley (Labour,Westover) circulated and spoke to  the following paper.

Members will be aware of recent press coverage of the pay awards given to Senior officers at Sedgemoor, specifically the Chief Executive and I believe it is necessary for Sedgemoor Members to be fully informed as to this decision, the background and the process.I would therefore wish this to become an urgent agenda item for a Corporate Scrutiny Committee which the Chief Executive and any other relevant individuals should be asked to attend.

The public concern is that the Chief Executive is to see his income rise by 20% consequent to taking on the extra role as Chief Executive of Homes in Sedgemoor and that this new figure of £139,000 is more than cabinet ministers who get £134,000 and almost equates to the Prime Minister on £142,000″

Sending the wrong message in the age of ‘austerity’?

"Those at the top should be setting an example" Cllr Brian Smedley Chair of Corporate Scrutiny
“Those at the top should be setting an example” Cllr Brian Smedley Chair of Corporate Scrutiny

“The additional concern comes from the Local Government Unions who say they have not been consulted and clearly feel the contrast between such high awards whilst elsewhere austerity is being preached as a reason to hold down wages. Council workers have faced 5 years of austerity with budget cuts and because of this many officers have taken on extra duties without recompense. There is a perception that those at the top should be setting an example.

There is further concern in relation to the background of this which members may not be aware of and that is that the Chief Executive used to do this “second job” as part of his duties as the SDC CEO. He stopped doing this when the job was taken away from SDC and a separate Homes in Sedgemoor CEO was introduced. Nevertheless he kept his existing wage with no reduction for not doing the job any more. Now he appears to all reasonable assessment to be doing that part of his job again but is being paid an additional sum on top of the wage he had for doing the same work as part of his role as CEO.

In response, thus far, Sedgemoor has stated that the reason for the perceived increase can also be justified with reference to ‘austerity’ and that it should be seen in the light of the savings gained from the combining of the Chief Executive roles.

Also in the light of current considerations for ‘Joint Working’ with South Somerset (which is currently without a Chief Executive) Sedgemoor needs to be completely open about the reasons and the process for this particular decision amongst others and to be able to justify the position in the eyes of members and the wider public.
Cllr Brian Smedley Chairman Corporate Scrutiny

Background Notes

• The decision was taken by the Executive on 18th November 2015 to delegate the decision on honoraria to the Leader; Deputy Leader and Leader of Labour Group.
• The notice of their decision was published on 15th December 2015.
• The Bridgwater Mercury covered the story on 5th January 2016