A SURGE in the number of Kirklees Council employees earning more than £50,000 has been revealed.
The 2008 Kirklees Council accounts show that 272 council staff breached the £50k a year threshold in the last financial year, 44 more than year before.
In July thousands of angry council staff took industrial action and marched through the streets of Huddersfield to demand better pay after they were offered a 2.45% pay deal.
But despite the recent action, Kirklees Unison branch secretary, Paul Holmes, refused to condemn the rocketing salaries of council bosses, admitting several of them could well be union members.
A Kirklees Council spokesman said the high earners were primarily senior directors, heads of service and senior managers who were responsible for large numbers of staff and delivering major complex projects.
Kirklees Council Leader, Clr Robert Light, also defended the generous salaries and said there was no specific reason for the surge other than people reaching the top of their pay grade and moving into the next bracket.
He said: “At the end of the day I make no apologies that we try to reward staff in the best way possible.
“We want the best people to work for Kirklees, we are a four star council and the council of the year and that’s down to the fact that we have got the best people running the place.
“If that means we pay more than other councils then I’m happy to do that.”
A spokesman for the Local Government Association claimed that compared to senior salaries in the private sector, taxpayers were getting very good value and added that a recent Audit Commission report revealed councils were performing better than they ever have before.
He said: “Even those middle managers are managing potentially large budgets on services that affect people’s day to day lives.”
The 2008 figures reveal that although things remain fairly static for the fat cats at the top of the pay league, it is the so called middle managers that appear to be reaping the benefits of the council’s generous pay grades, with 36 more executives finding themselves in the £50k and £60k bracket this year than last year.
Four more managers have moved into the £70k and £80k brackets respectively, and the £100k band has welcomed another two members.
Last year, a survey by the Taxpayers’ Alliance said the number of council “fat cats” across the country earning salaries of more than £100,000 had risen by a third.
The pressure group said it was an “insult” that such high salaries were being paid on the back of above-inflation council tax rises.