Anger as chief exec John van de Laarschot lands £5k Stoke-on-Trent City Council pay rise
CITY council chief executive John van de Laarschot is to pocket a £5,400 increase in his basic salary – despite the national public-sector pay freeze.
His salary will rise from £189,600 to £195,000 from April, due to an incremental increase allowed under the terms of his contract.
It means Mr van de Laarschot, below, has now reached the top of his pay bracket – after starting on £179,000 when he was hired in January 2010.
Details of Mr van de Laarschot's new pay packet are set to be approved at a council meeting tonight. It comes as councillors are set to approve £21 million of cuts to council services for 2013/14 at the same meeting.
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A protest over the authority's controversial decision to move its civic centre from Stoke to Hanley is also planned ahead of the 5.30pm meeting.
But Councillor Martin Garner, chairman of the council's human resources committee, today defended the chief executive's incremental pay increase, saying most employees benefited from the same system.
He said: "The chief executive has not received a pay increase since January 4, 2010, and is on the same pay scale as he was when he commenced employment. He was originally appointed at the bottom rung of the pay scale and has been slowly working his way up the scale increment like most other employees.
"In context 17,432 increments have been paid to employees in the same timescale, but the important difference being that the chief executive has to undertake a performance appraisal with the leader of the council and the human resources committee to assess his performance and set targets for the forthcoming 12 months before he can receive an increment, whereas most employees receive theirs automatically."
Incremental increases within an employee's pay scale are not affected by the Government's public-sector pay freeze.
But March on Stoke member Antony Bradshaw, who is protesting against the council's £55 million move to Hanley's Central Business District, does not believe Mr van de Laarschot should be receiving an increase in his pay.
The 49-year-old, from Penkhull, said: "It's just laughable to hear about this, when so many of the council's services are having to be cut back.
"Most people have not seen their pay increase for years so it just beggars belief that the council's chief executive should keep getting his."
Councillor Dave Conway, leader of the opposition City Independents group, believes senior officers should be taking a pay cut. He said: "My concern is why incremental pay increases were written into his contract in the first place when we were already in recession when he started three years ago.
"The council should have taken into account where we were at the time."
The chief executives of Staffordshire County Council and Newcastle Borough Council will see their basic salaries – £195,000 and £99,736 respectively – stay the same from April.
Moorlands District Council has reduced its chief executive's pay by six per cent from its 2010 level to £157,775.
Cheshire East Council is advertising for a permanent chief executive.