Council defends chief executive’s pay deal

BOSSES have stood by the pay deal for Boston Borough Council’s chief executive Richard Harbord following criticism over the fact he is employed through his own consultancy firm.

The council’s top officer (pictured) is paid almost £108,000-a-year for a 15-day-a-month role, but the money does not go directly to him.

The fact has drawn criticism from Boston’s Labour opposition councillors in light of Government scrutiny surrounding public sector pay with high profile cases of Department of Health staff and the boss of the Student Loans Company being paid through private firms.

Boston Borough Council leader Peter Bedford told The Standard that the pay deal is a ‘proper and routine arrangement’.

He said that it means the council does not have liability for holiday, sickness or National Insurance payments and does not have to make pension contributions.

He added Mr Harbord’s new contract with the council has been cut by three per cent to reflect tough economic times.

Coun Peter Bedford said: “Richard Harbord has been instrumental in turning this council around – from a council under threat of intervention by Government to one of few to receive an excellent audit report.

“He has overseen our transformation programme with successful projects so far including improved prospects for the Peter Paine Sports Centre, the Geoff Moulder Leisure Complex and the PRSA.”

Mr Bedford said that Mr Harbord’s deal is common with staff at other councils and allows him to work with other clients outside his 15 days at Boston.

Labour councillors have written to the chief executive of the Audit Commission to request that the matter is investigated.

Last week minister Eric Pickles called for councils to be open with taxpayers about pay arrangements.

Boston Labour leader Coun Paul Kenny said: “The local Boston Labour Party support George Osborne, Danny Alexander and Andrew Lansley in their condemnation of this method of paying CEO salaries.

“It obviously proves that the local Tories are out of tune with their national party, and we await any comment from Mark Simmonds, MP.”