By Kaye Wiggins
Lambeth council has defied communities secretary Eric Pickles’ rule that salaries and payouts over £100,000 should be discussed in public by councillors from all parties.
When Mr Pickles announced the move, he said it would make local authority pay “democracy-proof”. But Labour councillors at the authority have said it would bring “significant delay to the recruitment process” if the full council had to approve the highest pay packets.
They have also said there would be a delay in “implementing redundancy in a timely fashion” if severance packages worth more than £100,000 had to be discussed at full council meetings.
Under guidance from the Department for Communities and Local Government, published in February, the full council including opposition parties should be given the opportunity to vote before salaries or severance packages worth more than £100,000 are approved.
But Lambeth council papers say: “In light of the limited discretion available to the council when setting senior pay, it is recommended that [current] arrangements are sufficient so as to comply with the intention of [DCLG guidance] and should therefore continue unchanged.”
The paper was approved at a full council meeting last week.
Lambeth has 16 posts with salaries of more than £100,000.
Local government minister Brandon Lewis said in a statement: “The taxpayers of Lambeth should take note that the ruling councillors have failed to get a grip on the town hall rich list.
“The council should be held to account for giving the green light to greater secrecy and uncontrolled pay packets for top bosses.”
A version of this story first appeared in the Local Government Chronicle.