ARE council chief executives paid too much? Tabloids love to write stories about ‘fat cat’ salaries and how some chief executives are paid more than the Prime Minister.

When he was communities secretary, Eric Pickles – himself a former political leader of Bradford Council – loved to reinforce this myth. He accused council officials of earning “mega salaries” and forced local authorities to publicly justify their wages.

By any measure, the salary of Bradford’s chief executive is a lot of money – but should we be surprised?

Bradford Council’s budget for 2018-19 is almost £1.2 billion, including schools and benefits payments, or £358m if you remove ring-fenced spending.

It is the largest employer in the district with a workforce of more than 8,000 employees serving more than half-a-million people.

The authority is responsible for a wide range of complex services, such as child protection, adult social services and local planning, which require skilful management.

If we were talking about the CEO of a similar-sized private company a salary north of £200k wouldn’t raise an eyebrow – and that’s before the many performance-related perks, share schemes and incentives are factored into the average private sector remuneration package.

In the context of a £358m business needing to find £30m in savings over the next three years, the chief executive’s salary is a drop in the ocean. Even slashing it by half wouldn’t make a significant difference.

Scaremongering about ‘fat cats’ is just a con trick to divert attention away from nationally-imposed cuts to council budgets.