Wage increases at the top end of Moray Council’s staff structure are being highlighted in a media report that shows senior staff members being paid between £70,000 and £100,000 at the local authority has more than doubled over the last five years.
A report in the Sunday Mail today reveals that at the start of the current financial crisis six members of staff in Moray were being paid more than £70,000 with one being paid more than £100,000 – five years later and during a period of austerity for most staff who have faced a wage freeze, the number of senior staff members earning over the £70k threshhold has increased to 13.
While the Moray situation is mirrored over most local authorities in Scotland, the revelation comes at a time when the Tory/Independent administration is seeking to force almost half the libraries in the region to close amid claims they need to do so to save over £350k a year – savings that are hotly disputed by campaign group Save our Libraries Moray, who are seeking a Judicial Review on that decision at the Court of Session.
A spokesman for the libraries campaigners said: “Anyone in Moray reading the Sunday Mail report today will be left wondering just what is going on in the administration at Moray Council.
“Throughout the current financial crisis it has been more or less the same people who are in charge of the purse strings in Moray. This administration was congratulating itself not so very long ago on having a budget surplus, knowing full well that severe austerity was just around the corner.
“They undertook a series of ‘consultations’ in the community ahead of these cuts and as a result published tables that clearly demonstrated Libraries were not only coveted in Moray but were offering essential support for the most vulnerable people in the towns and villages where they are now being closed.
“Yet they still press ahead with closures despite warnings from all around them that what they were doing was not only wrong but is very likely in breach of their statutory duties.
“People are quite rightly asking just how this same local authority can justify continuing to pay ever-increasing salaries to their highest paid workers against such a backdrop.”
Both the SNP and Labour opposition groups at the local authority have opposed the library closures which are set to be discussed again on Wednesday, when an SNP motion will seek a suspension of Standing Orders to allow the matter to be debated again in the light of pending legal action.