New Leader and Executive confirmed at Somerset County Council

The chief executive of Somerset Council could earn up to £200,000 a year, councillors have confirmed this week.

The new unitary authority will replace the county and four district councils on 1 April next year.

Defending the high salary, councillors said Somerset needed “a star centre-forward” to oversee the “massive changes”.

The Labour opposition group argued the size of salaries paid to some senior staff was “wrong”.

Council leader Bill Revans (pictured centre) claimed the changes would make an annual saving of about £500,000 because the county was “moving from five chief executives to one”.

Councillor John Hunt said the high salary could be justified on the basis of similar pay being offered at other unitary authorities.

“To get the right man or woman, clearly we have to offer the right package to them – that’s just the way it is,” he told the BBC.

The head of the new authority, who is yet to be appointed, will oversee the day-to-day running of the existing county council during the transition and then do the same for the new Somerset Council.

The salary had previously been recommended as being between £190,000 and £230,000, but was revised down to £200,000.

Councillor Leigh Redman, who leads the Labour opposition group, said high salaries paid to some senior staff was “wrong” and it opened the door for similar increases for other members of the senior leadership team.

Mr Revans said amalgamating five councils into one was “a massive job”. “To paraphrase Liam Neeson from a popular film, we will need someone with a very particular set of skills, acquired over a very long career,” he added.

The successful candidate is expected to be approved at the next full council meeting on 20th July.

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