SOUTH Yorkshire’s top cop has hit back at calls for a wage freeze by the Rotherham-born head of a neighbouring force.
Chief Constable Med Hughes sought to justify his £140,000-plus salary after his West Yorkshire counterpart Sir Norman Bettison, himself on a £163,000 salary, said that pay levels for high-ranking public servants had spiralled out of control and left the country's finances in an "untenable situation."
Mr Hughes insisted that his force had performed measurably better since he took over and that his own pay and performance was closely scrutinised by the county’s police authority.
The row over public sector pay started when steelworker’s son Sir Norman admitted he was paid too much and suggested freezing the pay and pension entitlements of Britain’s 6.1 million public sector workers.
Sir Norman, whose total salary package amounted to £213,000, said: "Delaying action, or trimming staff numbers, just won't sort it.”
Sir Norman, who leads the biggest force in the region, dismissed as “nonsense” the view that councils, health trusts and other public bodies must offer salaries on a par with the private sector to attract the best bosses.
He added: “The best leaders are those who can secure long-term public value and a vision for their staff. Not some mercenary performance manager peddling a short-term fix.
“All that has been created are short-term engagements of senior leaders who feel pressured to deliver the latest central diktat and who get a remuneration package never dreamed of for their few years in post.”
He proposed that the pay freeze should be introduced in stages, affecting top-paid staff at first and coming down through the ranks in subsequent years.
Of his own pay package, he said: “Can that pay level be, any longer justified, even though I run a £427 million operation with more than 10,000 staff?
“My old dad, made redundant in the steel industry upheaval of the 1980s, wouldn’t have been able to comprehend it.”
His comments came as new figures show NHS chief executives received a 6.9 per cent average pay increase in 2008/09—more than double that for nurses.
A typical annual salary for senior NHS managers is £147,500.
Asked by the Advertiser to comment on Sir Norman’s stance, Mr Hughes, said: “Every year for the last five years, since I became chief constable, the performance of South Yorkshire Police has improved measurably, and in many aspects has beaten national improvement trends.
“The force has also outperformed other similar forces in many aspects.
“The last year alone (April 2009 to March 2010) has seen a reduction in crime of 13 per cent (over 17,300 fewer victims) and an overall increased detection rate to 31 per cent.
“Chief constables' salaries are set by a national pay body for the police and increases are the same for all ranks.
“The chief constable's performance and associated pay is monitored and scrutinised by the police authority which decides whether it's appropriate.”
Mr Hughes declined to say if he thought he was paid too much.
Last year, it was reported that he received £15,000 on top of his £140,000-a-year salary in an extra payment designed to keep high-quality staff.
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