TRAFFORD council has been accused of breaching its own pay rules and possibly even the law after refusing to disclose how much it is paying a raft of new top brass.

A row was sparked at the town hall’s latest meeting when the Tory opposition questioned why the six-figure salaries of two new senior officers were being kept private.

Details of how much the authority will be paying new interim chief executive Jim Taylor, who is sharing the role with the top job at Salford council for six months, were also discussed behind closed doors.

Conservative leader Sean Anstee said the council ‘may have acted unlawfully’ by committing more than £200,000 a year in pay without tabling a public report on the appointments.

Messenger Newspapers:

Conservative leader Cllr Sean Anstee claims Trafford Council may have broken the law by not disclosing pay details of new chief officers

Trafford council’s new Labour leadership rubbished the claims and insisted it had consulted the council’s legal team before appointing new officers.

It is understood the new corporate director roles will oversee governance and community strategy and people – which incorporates HR – at the town hall.

A reshuffle of senior officer positions is also thought to have been discussed in the part of the meeting not open to the public.

Cllr Anstee insisted the move was unacceptable, warning the council may even have broken the law in the way it had gone about creating the new roles.

“The report recommends the appointment of two corporate director positions that have not yet been approved,” he said.

“The report does not comply with the council’s own pay policy statement.

“While there is no requirement for any member of staff below head of paid service to be named, the salaries of the corporate leadership team are all publicly available – and have been for some time.

“Therefore, the creation of a new position at a salary level of above £100,000 is required to be heard in public.”

Messenger Newspapers:

Jim Taylor is now chief executive of both Salford City Council and Trafford Council

Cllr Anstee, who was leader of the council before the Tories lost control of the town hall at May’s elections, added: “The new administration has acted in haste, without consultation and in relation to just the creation of the posts may have acted unlawfully.”

The row erupted just a few weeks after the sudden departure of the council’s former chief executive and director of HR, who resigned after Labour won minority control of the council in May. 

In response to Cllr Anstee’s claims, Labour council leader Cllr Western said he had taken legal advice and rubbished the accusations.

“Clearly we have acted under advice from the council’s legal team,” he said.

“Therefore, given the confidentiality of some of the material with regards to individual names and salaries it is appropriate the report is heard in a closed meeting.”

However, the row continued as Tory councillor Patrick Myers proposed a motion to refer the matter to the council’s external auditor for review.

It said the council had not acted with due diligence and had provided no explanation of the anticipated £300,000 of additional revenue costs.

He said: “There is sufficient and justified concern surrounding the integrity of the process being compromised and the recommendations, if approved, potentially being unconstitutional and therefore unlawful.”

Cllr Western reiterated that the authority had acted legally and in line with the council’s constitution and his group would not be supporting the motion.

A spokesperson from Trafford Council said: "The process on all new appointments has been followed in compliance with constitutional and legal requirements.

"The figure of £300,000 additional revenue is incorrect. The cost of the top level structure below chief executive as approved by council on Wednesday is an additional £19,000 per annum.

"If the two interim roles of director of adult services and director of children’s services are confirmed as full corporate director level roles in the future this total additional cost will rise to £47,000."

The Tory motion to have the matter investigated by an external auditor was lost.

The report was then discussed by councillors in a closed session.