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'Pay peanuts, get monkeys.

We'll pay some monkeys then! (NPTW)Council chiefs in South Wales defend salaries:  'Pay peanuts, get monkeys'

By helen keates and jason evansSource: SWEP :

THE pay of senior council officers has been defended with a simple message — if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

The salaries of town hall bosses are in the spotlight after plans by Westminster to give councillors in England the power to block "mega" pay deals for chief executives and other leaders.

The chief executive of Carmarthenshire Council leads the way in South West Wales, with a salary of just under 165,000 a year.

Six other senior posts at the authority also come with six-figure salaries. Council leader Meryl Gravell defended the pay of the authority's managers, saying they were doing a good job.

"They are worth every penny that we pay them," she said.

"If we didn't have that quality Carmarthenshire wouldn't be where it is. I'm getting pretty fed up of this in the news.

"If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys."

Figures from Incomes Data Services show the heads of local authorities in Wales and England are paid an average of almost 148,000 — around 5,500 more than the Prime Minister.

Five senior managers in Swansea Council take home pay packets in excess of 100,000, including chief executive Paul Smith, who is paid just under 156,000. The authority's executive director is on 120,000, while the directors of regeneration, environment, and education all earn between 100,000 and 107,500.

Council leader Chris Holley said: "One of the things we have done over the past six years is reduce the number of people in the senior management team and we will continue to do that. We are very mindful of what the public thinks. However, if you ask anyone running a business with a turnover of almost half a billion pounds, which is effectively what the council is, you need managers of a certain quality, and that comes at a cost.

"You will have managers on high salaries and I think they are reflective of the work. Also, individuals in Swansea are doing considerably more for that money than before."

Meanwhile, Neath Port Talbot Council has four senior managers — the chief executive, director of environment, director of education, leisure and lifelong learning, and director of finance and corporate services — in the 100,000-plus club.

According to latest figures, chief executive Steve Phillips earns a basic salary of 134,253. Three directors earn around 108,000.

Neath Port Talbot Council leader Ali Thomas said it was inappropriate to comment on people's personal business but he said that he did understand that it was public money. However, he added: "All our officers work exceptionally hard, especially at the moment, to provide a service to the people Neath Port Talbot."

helen.keates@swwmedia.co.uk