CITY chiefs have been urged to slash staffing costs after it was revealed Edinburgh employed more officers on annual salary packages exceeding £50,000 than any other Scottish council.
A report released by advocacy group Taxpayers Scotland showed 390 staff employed by Edinburgh council in 2011-12 had received remuneration packages in the high salary bracket, at a total cost of £23.6 million.
Chief executive Sue Bruce was the highest paid council employee, with a salary of £158,553.
Ninety-one per cent who fell into the top salary bracket earned between £50,000 and £75,000 for the year.
The results left Edinburgh ranked seventh highest in terms of councils across Britain with the most staff on remuneration packages in excess of £50,000.
The position came despite employing 24 less staff in the top remuneration bracket compared with 2010-11.
Taxpayers Scotland director Eben Wilson said the council was trying to make cuts, but it was clear that further “belt tightening” was needed in tough economic conditions.
He said: “They are clearly beginning to think about it, but I still don’t think they’re thinking hard enough.
“It’s extremely difficult to cut staffing costs, but it has to be done because the results are good when you do it.”
Mr Wilson added: “In Scotland because we’ve got such a large State sector, private activity is not coming back as fast due to confidence. Our State sector is too big.”
Outside of London, the report found Scotland had the highest cost of paying staff earning more than £50,000 in 2011-12, coming in at £48.99 per resident – £20 a head more than in south-west England.
Conservative group leader Councillor Cameron Rose welcomed the modest reduction in high-paid staff achieved by Edinburgh, but said “huge inefficiencies” remained in the way the council operated. He said: “A year ago the council rejected annual savings of well over £8m on ideological grounds because some councillors wanted to keep employees in house. And the current political leadership of this so-called ‘co-operative’ council is obsessed with cosy, feel good concepts to the detriment of efficient service delivery.”
An Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty spokesman said there were concerns the “top-heavy” allocation of payments to council staff had forced the closure of key facilities like nurseries in the past two years.
Green group leader Councillor Steve Burgess described a salary above £50,000 as a very good wage, but said it was not in the “fat cat league” found in private business.
He said: “Among those earning above £50k will be school head teachers, who carry out work of immense value to the city, so I’d rather focus on getting further improvement to public services and appropriately rewarding those who provide them. The council has already rightly agreed to give staff at the lower end of the pay scale the dignity of a living wage.”
An Edinburgh council spokesman said: “We are one of the largest local authorities in the UK with around 17,000 staff and an annual budget of more than £1 billion. Our structures and staffing are designed to promote best value whilst maintaining high quality services for the people of Edinburgh.”
East Lothian Council, with 93, and Midlothian Council, with 75, employed two and one more officer in the £50,000-plus bracket in 2011-12 compared to the previous financial year.
But West Lothian Council  achieved a massive reduction, slashing 87 staff from the top salary range – a whopping 36 per cent fall.
A spokesman said the drop-off had been achieved through a concerted effort to cut staffing costs.
City council salaries
1. Chief executive Sue Bruce £158,553
2. Director of children and families Gillian Tee £140,676
3. Director of corporate govern-ance Alastair Maclean £132,105
4. Director of city development Dave Anderson £124,101
5. Director of corporate services Jim Inch £123,525
5. Director of finance Donald McGougan £123,525
5. Director of services for comm-unities Mark Turley £123,525
8. Acting director of finance Karen Kelly £111,516*
9. Chief financial officer Karen Kelly £99,507*
10. Chief social work officer Michelle Miller £97,782
* Applicable during time in role
1. Edinburgh University principal Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea £227,000
2. Lothian Buses managing director Ian Craig £208,137
3. High Court Judge £172,753
4. NHS Lothian chief executive Tim Davison £170,767
5. EICC chief executive Hans Rissmann £161,144
6. Prime Minister David Cameron £142,500
7. Ex-Lothian and Borders Chief Constable David Strang £142,000
8. First Minister Alex Salmond £135,605
9. Average SPL footballer £120,000
10. EDI Group operations director Eric Adair £102,901