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A matter of facts ...
A matter of facts

In response to Employers? Organisation deputy executive Rob Pinkham?s kite-flying statements on chief executives? salaries (LGC, 27 June), I thought it might be useful to add some facts to the debate.

Chief executives are by no means overpaid. It is true half a dozen individual salaries have attracted media attention but the average chief executive salary is less than half the sum quoted. Those who do attract higher pay are still low paid when compared with the private sector or even other parts of the public sector such as university vice chancellors.

Mr Pinkham alleges some form of head-hunter conspiracy forcing up wages. This is wrong. Councillors decide who to appoint as a chief executive and how much she or he should be paid. They do this based on a variety of factors, including market conditions and the kind of person they are looking for.

Mr Pinkham goes on to dismiss wage comparisons as there is no real market. This also is wrong. Research commissioned by a number of bodies, including the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives & Senior Managers and EO shows there are problems in the recruitment and retention of chief executives.

There is a constructive debate to be had concerning the job of chief executive and the reward package it attracts. I would welcome constructive views from the EO but not just on the salary issue. Perhaps they could also help Solace in examining service condition issues.

The job of the council chief executive is not a simple one. A proper strategy that will help us recruit and retain the best for our industry is needed and Solace is ready to help develop one.

David Clark

Director general, Solace

Stand and deliver

Our delight in hearing news that all three northern regions will be holding referendums to decide on elected assemblies (LGC, 20 June) is tempered by concern.

The government needs to improve what is on offer if our partner organisations in those regions are to deliver an overwhelming yes vote nex t year.

We welcome the white paper proposals to devolve meaningful powers over housing and delivery of regional economic strategy. And at least the government has agreed the referendum will give people in existing two-tier council areas a choice of the type of unitary they move to. But if we are to turn the proven latent support for devolution to the regions into a positive turnout to vote, the new bodies must be able to deliver on transport, skills, training and the environment.

We need assurance that the final decisions on regional issues will be in the regions and not subject to central veto.

To their credit, the government have indicated they will produce a draft bill ahead of the referendums so people are clear what they are voting for. We will certainly use that opportunity to lobby hard for stronger assemblies which have the powers to make a real difference in all the key regional functions.

Don Price

National campaign officer,

Campaign for the English Regions

Poetic licence

Varya Shaw is perfectly entitled to her apparently poor opinion of my effectiveness and leadership qualities (LGC, 27 June), but I must plead ?not guilty? to the charge of shyness and of eye contact not being my thing.

It is difficult to maintain eye contact for an hour when talking into a tape recorder, which is how our interview was conducted.

Should Ms Shaw ever wish to interview me again, I can promise, if she leaves the tape recorder behind ? drawing on my ?great knowledge about literature? ? to ?drink to her only with mine eyes?.

Sir Jeremy Beecham (LAB)

Chairman, Local Government Association

A shot in the foot

After reading your front-page story (LGC, 27 June), I can?t help thinking Alistair Neill, incoming chief executive of Merthyr Tydfil CBC, shot himself in the foot. He says he took a pay cut to join Northamptonshire CC.

Is this not in agreement with the Employers? Organisation?s deputy executive Rob Pinkham?s claim that ?pay is being bidded up for people who woul d take the job anyway??

Piyush Fatania

Northamptonshire CC

Credit where it?s due

I was disappointed LGC dismissed the commitment, time and energy Peter Ridsdale has, as chair, put into supporting Education Leeds (LGC, 6 June).

Mr Ridsdale has chaired the monthly meetings of the Board of Education Leeds, visited schools and attended a huge number of school celebrations? presentations and prize givings.

Education Leeds has successfully tackled a huge number of initiatives and we are looking forward to next year?s inspection which we believe will prove Education in Leeds has again made good progress and is building on real success ? thanks, in part, to the support of Mr Ridsdale.

Chris Edwards

Chief executive, Education Leeds

Headteacher?s honour

In LGC?s Honours list I noticed the award

of DBE to Pam Coward, headteacher of Middleton Technology School, was not included (LGC, 20 June).

It is appropriate recognition of the contribution she has made to improving the life chances of youngsters in Middleton.

Ms Coward has also helped another local school make dramatic improvements and has led the development of the Excellence in Cities programme locally. Her honour is justly deserved and we are delighted she has been honoured in this very special way.

Terry Piggott

Executive director, Rochdale MBC

Hitting ministers hard

Matthew Taylor hit some nails on the head with his piece on the central government?s empty vows (LGC, 27 June).

Many in the Local Government Association have wanted a more assertive approach towards government for several years. It has been painfully obvious that cosying-up to ministers and civil servants has achieved meagre rewards for councils.

Some time ago, LGA directors agreed although they would continue to work with the government, they needed a tougher approach. Sadly we have seen little of it and I had begun to think the LGA should introduce assertiveness training for staff.

The reports produced for the LGA annual confe rence do offer hope as well as reflect the frustration we all feel. Councils have gone along with public service agreements and comprehensive performance assessments and been co-operative with the review of local government finance. Yet central government has given us almost nothing in return.

It is hard to see where the government?s heart is on devolution, but what is painfully obvious is that its pernicious centralism and foot dragging needs to be robustly confronted by the LGA.

I am pleased the latest publications are robust, but as always it is the public spin which matters most. The LGA must be willing to hit ministers hard. Local government should no longer be willing to go quietly.

Chris Clarke OBE

Leader, LGA Liberal Democrat Group

The power to empower

A Black Male Forum is to be held in Brent, to give black, male teenagers aged between 13 and 16 the chance to talk about a range of issues affecting them.

Problems such as gun crime, unemployment and socio-economic disadvantages affect many parts of the UK. This forum aims to show how some of the people most affected by these issues can become part of the solution ? and start to rebuild their communities.

Parliamentary under secretary for race equality, community policy and civic renewal, Fiona McTaggart, will be guest of honour at the event to be held on 16 July at Willesden High School, London.

Bisi Akiwumi-Jones

Projects director, Voicing Our Issues & Struggles

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