Edinburgh has highest number of council employees on over £100,000 in Scotland

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Edinburgh has more council employees on over £100,000 a year than any other local authority in Scotland, according to the annual Town Hall Rich Liist.

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The Capital tops the league for the second year running with a total of 29 people employed by the council or its arms-length companies receiving packages worth more than £100,000 in 2020/21 – one more than the previous year.

And Paul Lawrence, director of place – with a remit which includes planning, transport, economic development, housing and waste collection – has been named the council’s employee with the highest remuneration at £198,011, made up of £161,247 salary and £36,764 in pension.

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The Capital’s second highest remuneration went to Edinburgh Trams managing director Lea Harrison who received a total of £186,531. That included salary of £150,523 – a pay increase of £18,498 on the previous year – as well as £19,971 pension and £16,037 “other benefits”. But the absence of a bonus meant his overall package fell from £194,123.

The man with the third biggest package was council chief executive Andrew Kerr with a salary of £179,364, but nothing listed for pension because he is not a member of the local government pension scheme.

The list, put together by the Taxpayers' Alliance, only names ten of the 29 Edinburgh employees on over £100,000.

The fourth biggest package – £170,438 – went to Stephen Moir, director of resources who recently left the council.

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Edinburgh has highest number of council employees on over £100,000 in ScotlandEdinburgh has highest number of council employees on over £100,000 in Scotland
Edinburgh has highest number of council employees on over £100,000 in Scotland

He was followed by Marshall Dallas, chief executive of Edinburgh International Conference Centre, whose remuneration totalled £167,073, then Nigel Serafini, interim managing director of Lothian Buses on £162,779. George Lowder, chief executive of Transport for Edinburgh, received £152,350.

Alastair Gaw, who left as director of communities and families in October 2020, was on £146,739. Hugh Dunn, head of finance, received £143,724. And Jackie Irvine, chief social work officer, £136,635.

The Taxpayers’s Alliance said during the Covid pandemic, the number of council staff across the UK receiving more than £100,000 had increased by 119 to at least 2,921 people, with 739 getting more than £150,000.

The biggest remuneration package paid by a Scottish council was £612,412 received by Glasgow's executive director of City Building (Contracts) Dr Graham Paterson.

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Paul Lawrence - Edinburgh City Council's Director of Place.Paul Lawrence - Edinburgh City Council's Director of Place.
Paul Lawrence - Edinburgh City Council's Director of Place.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: “Taxpayers facing a cost of living crisis want to know they are getting value for money from their local authority leadership. With households having suffered through the pandemic and now struggling under colossal tax bills, the country needs councils to prioritise key services without resorting to punishing tax hikes. These figures will allow residents to judge town hall bosses for themselves and hold their local councils to account.”

A council spokesperson said: “We want to promote transparency and accountability within the council and always publish the salaries and expenses of our most senior managers as part of our annual accounts. Rates of pay are determined by a wholly objective job evaluation scheme aligned to the national pay arrangements for chief officials, which reflect the level of responsibility for the roles concerned.”

She pointed out that four of the 29 staff were not directly employed by the council and said seven of the 29 did not earn more than £100,000 a year because the totals quoted included one-off sums paid as part of early retirement or voluntary release.

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Lea Harrison - managing director at Edinburgh TramsLea Harrison - managing director at Edinburgh Trams
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