Belfast new regeneration guru to earn £104k

City Wall

Belfast City Council is offering to pay an annual salary of more than £104,000 for a “big picture thinker”.

City Hall chiefs have hired an external recruitment agency to find a “visionary” to fill the role of strategic director of place and economy.

The hefty pay cheque will put the successful candidate close to the top one per cent of earners in the UK.

Details in application packs sent to candidates reveal the director will control a budget of around £30m and have a staff of around 30 people.

The main responsibilities of the role are to grow the economy and lead the development of Belfast’s living, working and cultural life, according to job application details.

Suzanne Wiley, chief executive of Belfast City Council, said in the pack: “The post-holder will drive the future growth and regeneration of the city, leading on strategic planning and policy matters to ensure Belfast is viewed as a prominent and resilient city to attract investment and generate new opportunities.”

But the TaxPayers’ Alliance voiced concern at the £100,000-plus wage at a time of Government austerity.

James Price said: “Despite many in the public sector facing much-needed pay restraint to help bring the public finances under control, many town hall bosses are continuing to pocket huge remuneration packages.

“This is a huge amount of money to spend on a single position – even without including pension and other benefits – and raises serious questions about efficiency and priorities at the council when it comes to spending taxpayers’ money.”

A Belfast council spokesman said the salary proposed for the strategic director reflected the level of responsibility for the job.

He added: “Salaries adhere to local government guidelines and this appointment has involved a robust job evaluation exercise.

“The salary takes account of the high level and breadth of responsibilities and is benchmarked against other comparable posts in the private and public sectors.

“The use of an external recruitment agency helps ensure a wide trawl of candidates, given the high level of this post.”

A major report last month revealed that teachers, nurses and police officers have seen their take-home pay fall or stagnate in real terms following a decade of salary freezes.

In April Prime Minister Theresa May was confronted on live TV about nurses having to turn to food banks to avoid starving, replying that it was due to “many complex reasons” besides their pay.

Last week it emerged that senior managers at Ulster University were the third-highest paid in the UK.

Article by Aaron Tinney from Belfast Telegraph