Council appoints first female chief exec – paid £110k

Controversy has started over the salary offered to Chichester District Council’s first woman chief executive after she was appointed.

Diane Shepherd, 45, was unanimously voted in as the next chief executive at a council meeting, fending off more than 40 other applicants from a wide area of the country.

But controversy started over the salary offered for the Chichester post, even before the appointment was approved. The Taxpayers’ Alliance called for the advertised pay of ‘up to’ £115,000 a year to be cut by £15,000, although it emerged later that the new chief will in fact receive a salary of £110,000 - less than her predecessor, John Marsland, who retired in December.

Calling for the salary cut, Taxpayers’ Alliance spokesman Andrew Allison said: “Councils argue they have got no option but to increase parking charges because they’ve got no money. But we are highlighting areas where they could save money in senior salaries.

“All of these senior council officers should be leading by example. More junior members of staff are already on pay freezes.”

Ms Shepherd was previously the council’s director of corporate services.

She has worked in local government for 24 years and is both a qualified accountant and personnel practitioner.

She said: “I have worked at the council for 21 years, and so I know how special the district is to the people who live and work within it.

“We know that there will be challenging times ahead, but I am looking forward to working closely with our staff, communities and partners to make sure we continue to deliver quality services that are good value for money.”

A district council spokesman said that when Mr Marsland decided to retire they reviewed how and if this role should be replaced.

The council unanimously agreed the role of chief executive was critical to the future success of the council in serving its electorate, and should remain.

“At this point it was agreed that the recruitment process should begin, and the salary that would be offered,” the spokesman added.

“It was also agreed that we should test the market to make sure that the council recruited the best possible candidate for the job.”