Performance cashprompts protests

TOP BRASS at North Lanarkshire Council are boosting their pay by up to £13,000 - as the local authority prepares to axe 600 jobs to save money.

Wednesday, 19th January 2011, 11:10 am

It has emerged that staff on six-figure salaries have been awarded performance-related payments, despite approving some £55 million of cuts within two years.

Chief Executive Gavin Whitefield earned the most through the scheme, as the £13,000 performance payment was added to his basic salary of £136,000.

And five executive directors, who each earn around £113,000 a year, were in line for a maximum of £10,275 based on performance.

Last year,the sum made available through the scheme stood at £205,245.

The figure was confirmed in a letter from Mr Whitefield himself to Scottish Nationalist councillor Gordon Stewart.

And Mr Whitefield appears to be of the view that these sums are fully justified.

He stated: “The council took the decision more than six years ago that all chief officers would be subject to performance related pay.

“This means that our chief officers do not receive the salaries which they would automatically receive in other councils.

“They receive a lower amount and a percentage which may take them to the full amount related to performance set against stringent targets. “

He added: “We are the only council to do this for all chief officers.”

And he stressed: “This is consistent with our drive for top performance and continuous improvement.”

But the chief executive’s words did not pass muster with Central List MSP Jamie Hepburn.

The Scottish Nationalist said: ‘ “Performance related payments for top council executives who are already extremely well paid in the current climate are not on.

“They may well be entitled to receive these payments by the terms of their contracts, but in other areas of the public sector, many people have volunteered to forgo any similar payments they may be eligible to claim.

“It cannot be right that those self same officials who are cutting Council services and some six hundred jobs can be given an additional payment as reward. “

The MSP added: “This money should be used to sustain front-line services and jobs, not to further line already well stocked pockets.”

His nationalist colleague, Councillor Alan O’Brien, added: “This council should be utterly ashamed of its conduct. Staff are paying themselves out cash for targets they are setting for themselves – and I understand that even the poorest performing departments seem to be getting payouts.”

Meanwhile, Carbrain man Bill Henry, who has complained to this newspaper before about the perceived lack of gritting locally, said: ‘‘If this is performance related pay, I have to say, what performance?”

Meanwhile it looked as if the topic was set to dominate a special meeting held in Cumbernauld Primary last night (Tuesday), which was called by three community councils and Cumbernauld Community Forum.

NLC Roads boss Graham Mackay was expected to face harsh questions not only about the gritting issue in Cumbernauld but the performance-related payouts as well.