The highest paid officer at Bristol City Council, costing taxpayers £263,000 a year, is finally being replaced by a permanent successor — on up to £128,000 less.
Colin Molton has held the role of executive director of growth and regeneration on an “interim” basis since 2017, receiving a daily rate of £1,450 for a four-day working week via a recruitment agency.
His eye-watering wage bill tops the Prime Minister’s £151,000 salary by more than £100,000 and is almost four times that of Bristol mayor Marvin Rees’ £69,000 annual allowance.
It has come under fire because it vastly exceeds the council’s own pay policy, which states no member of staff will be paid more than 10 times the lowest earner.
The council has previously claimed interim staff cost the same as a full-time equivalent when employer contributions are taken into account.
But Mr Molton’s pay package does not reflect this.The highest earning, directly employed executive directors earn up to £165,000, the council’s upper salary cap, which rises to about £230,000 when pay and contributions are included. However, Mr Molton is paid £32,853 more than this top figure.
In a behind-closed-doors meeting at City Hall on Tuesday (August 21), selection committee members whittled down his replacement from over a dozen candidates to just a handful who will be interviewed by the cross-party panel on Thursday, September 5.
According to the council’s pay policy, the successful applicant’s salary range will be £135,000 to £165,000.
That is between a whopping £98,000 and £128,000 less than the current incumbent costs the authority.
When asked for a comment, Tory human resources spokesman Cllr Richard Eddy said: “To be fair, cross-party members of the council’s human resources committee have repeatedly expressed concerns about the manner in which the interim director of growth and regeneration was appointed and pressed for a transparent permanent replacement.
“I am pleased that this process has now come about and the council’s selection committee will shortly meet to interview and appoint the right candidate.
“I make no criticism of the current post-holder, who I believe has faithfully sought to guide the fortunes of the great city of Bristol.
“However, there remains the issue of transparency of the selection process and the value for money obtained for the Bristol taxpayer.
“A permanent replacement for the executive director cannot come too soon.”
The council’s recently published annual statement of accounts revealed it paid £262,853 for Mr Molton’s services in the 2018/19 financial year.
Bristol City Council has been asked for a comment but said that because the recruitment process was ongoing and personal information was being discussed in exempt session, it would not be releasing any further information at this stage.
It previously insisted a senior management restructure had saved the authority £1million a year.
In response to a similar media enquiry last summer, a spokesperson said: “Interim directors are paid at a level that reflects their talent, skills and responsibility, and the overall cost of an interim director is no more than a permanent director, once holidays, pension contributions and other employment costs are taken into account.”
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