There would be more money for expenses
Guarantee you’ll never miss another big story by signing up for our free email updates
A Derbyshire council has filled a returning leadership role paying up to £176,000 – a salary which has been opposed by the authority’s own administration.
Derbyshire County Council has appointed Emma Alexander, who held the highest officer role at the authority, to the new managing director position.
Opposition groups, and the council’s own role definition, point out that the managing director role is effectively the same in all but name as the former chief executive position, which was scrapped four years ago.
The authority is set to formally approve the appointment of Ms Alexander, who joined the authority in 2017, at a council meeting on Wednesday, December 1.
Read more Derbyshire politics stories
It says Ms Alexander will start on a salary of £161,000 with additional money for expenses, £23,000 higher than the former chief executive role.
Cllr Barry Lewis, the authority’s leader, who opposed the pay for which Ms Alexander may now receive, said: “Emma joined the council in 2017 with a strong track record in the public and commercial sectors and has provided outstanding leadership and drive to the organisation over the last four years.
“I am delighted that she will be working alongside me in the role of managing director.
“Emma was selected after a rigorous competitive recruitment process against a high calibre field and I know she will continue to have the core values of improving people’s lives and partnership work at the centre of her approach.
“The changing world of local government – which includes leading the post-pandemic economic and social recovery, the integration of health and social care, driving forward Vision Derbyshire to develop a collaborative working model across all local authorities, and harnessing the opportunities that levelling up presents – means this role is essential in enabling us to adapt and respond at every level across the organisation.
“This approach demonstrates our responsiveness as a council, our ability to change and adapt to a new landscape and our determination to do what is right for Derbyshire people, our partner organisations and our communities.”
The role of managing director will be to set clear strategic direction, drive performance and provide accountability to councillors and residents. It also includes the responsibility of “leading on relationships with key partners locally, regionally and nationally, ensuring Derbyshire has influence at every level and that the county’s voice is heard”.
Ms Alexander is set to take up the role from December 6, with a salary of between £161,000 and £176,000 – 10 times the salary of the authority’s lowest paid staff.
This is a significant £23,000 to £38,000 increase from the previous £138,000 chief executive role, scrapped by the then incoming and now incumbent Conservative administration in 2017.
July 2017 – Derbyshire County Council scraps chief executive role, assistant chief executive and strategic director of corporate resources in a bid to save £300,000 a year
August 2017 – Ian Stephenson, outgoing chief executive, leaves his £138,000 post
September 2017 – strategic director of adult care, Joy Hollister, is appointed head of paid service with £10,000 pay bump above other strategic directors
April 2018 – Emma Alexander, strategic director of commissioning, communities and policy be designated as head of paid service on a permanent basis
June 2018 – It is revealed Ian Stephenson received a redundancy payout of £124,694
November 2020 – Derbyshire County Council’s lead officer role, occupied by Emma Alexander, is upgraded to managing executive director, with a pay hike of £30,000, for one year
September 2021 – County council approves a move to make managing director role permanent with a salary of up to £176,000 with the job open to internal and external applicants
November 2021 – Council council appoints Emma Alexander, current interim managing executive director and executive director for commissioning, communities and Policy, as its permanent managing director, starting with a salary of £161,000 with an upper bracket rising to £176,000
The administration had cut the role, then held by Ian Stephenson, in a bid to save £300,000.
It was later revealed that Ian Stephenson, the outgoing chief executive whose role was scrapped, making him redundant, had received a total payout package of nearly £125,000 – with leadership denying this was a “golden handshake”.
When the council approved the forming of the new managing director role in September, the authority’s own leader, Conservative Cllr Barry Lewis, said that no role in local government should have a salary higher than the Prime Minister.
Boris Johnson’s total salary as Prime Minister is £161,401, of which £79,496 is for his role as Prime Minister and £81,932 is for being an MP (member of Parliament).
Cllr Lewis denied that this was the chief executive role returning under a different name, despite the responsibilities remaining nearly identical.
He said the former role enabled the chief executive to “stand in front” of the council leader and block decisions, while the new role would not allow for that and would see the managing director give “clear, strategic guidance”.
Cllr Simon Spencer, deputy leader of the authority, had also said he was “uncomfortable” with the salary but said this was the standard in the industry.
Labour Group leader Cllr Joan Dixon had opposed the salary, saying it could not be justified and said the Conservatives “haven’t got the guts to do is to say the cuts to strategic leadership was wrong”.
Cllr Ed Fordham, leader of the Liberal Democrats Group, said the pay level was “unacceptable” and that pay levels for senior management need to be reassessed.
The county council is to pay private firm Korn Ferry Hay Group £83,000 to review the levels it pays senior management.
To see all the biggest and best stories, first sign up to read our newsletters here