TWO council chiefs on more than £100,000 have been slammed for taking ‘staggering’ pay rises.

Hyndburn Chief Executive David Welsby and Pendle’s boss Stephen Barnes were given increases of 7.1 per cent and 10.3 per cent respectively.

The rises have been branded a ‘morally indefensible kick in the teeth’ for workers, many of whom received 1.9 per cent extra.

But the wages have been defended by council leaders who said: “Big jobs need the best people on the best salaries.”

Campaign group the Taxpayers’ Alliance obtained the figures under the Freedom of Information Act.

Mr Welsby’s pay in the last financial year rose to £109,996, whle Mr Barnes’ salary hit £125,770.

The figures show that 12 bosses at councils in the area earn more than £100,000, including eight at Lancashire County Council, topped by Chief Executive Chris Trinick on £192,342.

Blackburn with Darwen Chief Graham Burgress was on £120,000 and Burnley’s Steve Rumbelow £111,898, but no comparison figures were available.

No staff earn more than £100,000 at Rossendale and Ribble Valley councils.

None of East Lancashire’s council bosses were in the country’s top 10, which was led by Wakefield chief John Foster on a total package of £545,000.

Nationally, Solace, the professional body representing council chief executives, said the bosses could earn 10 times as much working for private firms with similar amounts of staff.

But Taxpayers’ Alliance policy analyst Maria Fort said the sums involved were “staggering”.

She said: ”The fact that executives who have overseen increases in council tax, cuts in services and major policy failures are getting ever more generously rewarded is frustrating for taxpayers who are struggling to make ends meet.

”Councils must start tightening their belts. We’re in a recession and many of these rewards are financially unsustainable and morally indefensible.”

Greg Pope, Hyndburn MP, said the pay rises were “difficult to justify”.

He said: “Most public sector staff were lucky last year to get 1.9 per cent so these pay rises are certainly surprising.

“I know that many of these men and women are doing an excellent job but when they are awarded such huge increases it is hard to take.”

Coun Mohammed Iqbal, opposition Labour leader in Pendle, said the 10 per cent rise for Mr Barnes in the borough was a “kick in the teeth” for struggling workers.

He said: “I was aware that he was on a lot of money but this is more than we thought.”

A spokesman for Unison, the public sectors workers’ union, said many staff would be getting the equivalent of just a three-pence per hour rise this year.

He said: “Such huge rises on already huge salaries will be a bitter blow for many.”

But bosses defended the rises.

Hyndburn leader Peter Britcliffe said Mr Welsby had performed excellently to turn the council from rated as ‘fair’ to ‘excellent’.

He said: “He has done an incredible job and other councils are aware of this.

"I am sure that they would grab him as quick as a shot.

"We are anxious to reward the hard work and loyalty of staff and his pay increase reflects that.”

Coun John David, leader of Pendle Council, said Mr Barnes provided ‘good value’, and highlighted the £3million savings drive he had led, as well as success in the council audit inspections.

He said: “His salary was assessed by an external body some years ago and, in my opinion, it is in the line with the responsibilities of the job.”

County Councillor Hazel Harding, leader of the county council, said the size of the organisation and the responsibilities it brought warranted the high earners.

She said: “We are the fourth largest council in the country, with an annual budget of more than £715m and more than 43,000 employees.

"To attract the best candidates, our salaries need to compare to parts of both the public and private sectors.”

Coun Michael Lee, leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: "We make no apology for paying salaries which reflect the level of expertise and vision needed for all of our senior posts."

What they earn

  • £192,342 - Lancashire's Chris Trinick
  • £125,770 - Pendle's Stephen Barnes
  • £120,000 - Blackburn with Darwen's Graham Burgess
  • £111,898 - Burnley's Steve Rumbelow
  • £109,996 - Hyndburn's David Welsby
  • £98,000 - Rossendale's chief executive's advertised salary (position currently vacant)
  • No figures released - Ribble Valley's Marshal Scott