Central Bedfordshire council defends chief executive's £185k salary as 'Town Hall Rich List' published

Top council officers salaries have been published in the latest TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) report
Central Beds CouncilCentral Beds Council
Central Beds Council

Central Bedfordshire council has defended the £185.7k salary of its chief executive – saying the sum reflects the ‘complexities and responsibilities’ of the role.

Bedfordshire’s top council officers’ salaries have been published in the latest TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) Town Hall Rich List.

According to the data, Central Bedfordshire chief executive Marcel Coiffait has a salary of £185,725 and pension of £50,703. The prime minister had a salary entitlement of £164,951 in 2022-23.

The news comes as cash-strapped Central Bedfordshire Council is faced with “the biggest cost reduction challenge ever to have faced this council” according to executive member for finance, councillor John Baker (Independent, Aspley and Woburn).

In a statement published after a council meeting debating this year’s budget, council leader Adam Zerny said: “We are acutely aware of the increased cost of living for residents. Asking you to pay more is not something we take lightly or without careful consideration.

“In the face of great financial pressures, key services have been retained and we have worked to protect the council’s reserves. This is a sensible budget. A prudent budget.”

As well as a rise of 4.99 per cent in the CBC’s slide of the council tax bill, other cost-cutting measures included introducing a charge for the collection of garden waste.

In December, the council had admitted cuts to services and a five per cent council tax rise were on the cards as it struggled with ‘huge financial pressure’.

Speaking at the time, councillor Zerny said: "This budget has always been about protecting the key services.

“The changes to garden waste and council tax mean we can keep all our other services running such as libraries, leisure centres and children’s centres, as well as adult social care and services for children and families.

“When we became the new administration in May, we knew the budget would be tough – last year council tax was not increased, and this decision effectively reduced the available income to fund services by up to £9.5million this year and every year going forward. This decision, which was made by the previous council, combined with high inflation and increasing costs of some of our most important services like adult social care and children’s services, means we need to make some tough decisions.”

A one-off payment of an extra £2.5m was agreed for Central Bedfordshire Council, as part of the government’s financial settlement this year.

Across the country, the number of council staff receiving over £150,000 hit a record high of 829, while for the first time, the number receiving over £200,000 has been specifically revealed, with 175 receiving this remuneration.

In a statement posted on TPA’s website (April 9), chief executive John O’Connell said: “The new financial year has seen council tax soar across the country, and taxpayers will notice that top brass pay has simultaneously surged.

“Local authorities provide crucial services and residents will want to make sure they are getting bang for their buck with their ever-increasing bills.

“Residents can use these figures to ask whether precious funds are really going towards frontline services, or whether town hall bosses can get better value for money,” he said.

Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC)said the amount quoted by TPA includes salary, pension contributions and expenses.

“We list staff salaries on our website for everyone to view,” a CBC spokesperson said.

“With overall responsibility for financial services totalling £1,018.2m and a population of 301,500, Central Bedfordshire Council is one of the largest unitary authorities.

“When we benchmark the salary of the chief executive, we look at unitary and county authorities across the UK. Given the complexities and responsibilities associated with this position, the compensation package must be competitive to attract and retain top talent.”