WAGES for Hounslow Council's top-earning bureaucrats rose by an inflation-busting eight per cent last year, new figures have revealed.
Members of the £100,000 club saw their pay rise by an average of 8.2 per cent, with one executive receiving a whopping 16.7 per cent increase.
A total of eight officers made it into the six-figure bracket during 2008/9 - one up from last year, according to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Tax Payers' Alliance (TPA).
All but one of the six employees featured on the list for both years enjoyed a pay rise of at least five per cent, with only Lee Dawson, director of corporate property and project co-ordination, accepting a pay freeze.
Outgoing chief executive Mark Gilks topped the pay list, earning £164,828 (a rise of 7.6 per cent). He was closely followed by the director of legal services Terry Walsh, whose pay packet swelled by more than a sixth to £141,851.
The two new entries were director of finance Stephen Fitzgerald and director of corporate services Willie Griffin, who received £121,259 and £110,918 respectively. Assistant chief executive Howard Simmons, who earned £105,600 in 2007/8, was the only person to lose his place on the list.
John O'Connell, policy analyst for the TPA, said: "Town hall bosses have had a very good recession at taxpayers' expense. More of them than ever are earning massive amounts, and they even enjoyed a healthy pay rise while everyone else was suffering pay freezes, cuts or redundancies."
However, Councillor Gerald McGregor, Hounslow's lead member for finance, defended the pay rises. He said the Tory-led administration had cut the number of director roles from 11 to five as part of its cost-cutting 'Performance Improvement Programme', meaning those remaining had much greater responsibility.
"We've reduced the total budget extensively. Those folk who are left are highly regarded by the administration and they all took part in a competitive application process for the new roles," he added. "We firmly believe they represent good value for money and their wages are reasonable for the responsibilities they carry."
Nationally, at least 1,250 council staff earned £100,000 or more during 2008/9, up from 1,099 the previous year, with 166 receiving £150,000 or above.
Top earner list - see page 2
HOUNSLOW COUNCIL'S TOP EARNERS Name (Position) Total remuneration 2008/9 (2007/8)
Mark Gilks (chief executive) £164,828 (£153,149)
Judith Petterson (director of children's services and lifelong learning) £126,771 (£115,200)
Terry Welsh (director of legal services) £141,851 (£121,579)
Lee Dawson (director of corporate property and project coordination) £105,600 (£105,600)
Michael Jordan (director of planning) £112,270 (£105,600)
Suresh Kamath (director of street management and public protection in 2007/8, divisional head of public realm in 2008/9) £128,871 (£118,409)
Stephen Fitzgerald (director of finance) £121,259 (NA)
Willie Griffin (director of corporate services) £110,918 (NA)