TOWN hall bosses today recommended a pay increase of more than £13,000 for the chief executive.

The base rate for Bury Council's top officer is currently £155,347 and the HR and Appeals Panel recommended this increase to £168,444.

If approved at the full council meeting later in the month, the new chief executive could see their salary rise through two more incremental points to £175,000.

Currently the chief executive's top salary is £168,444.

At the meeting, Labour council leader Cllr Rishi Shori stressed the salary increase was about attracting the right candidate to the job and getting the best for Bury.

Cllr Shori said: "The increase is to take into account the change in role and to make us competitive.

"We want to have the best person for this job.

"I think back to the last chief executive recruitment in 2015 and there was only one serving chief executive listed from a district council."

In response to a question from Cllr Tim Pickstone, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, Cllr Shori said the salary had not been reviewed since 2007. And no re-evaluation had taken place in 2015 when former-chief executive Mike Owen was appointed.

Cllr Pickstone agreed this was 'well overdue'. He also asked about comparable council's and their chief executive salaries.

Cllr Shori said the Bolton chief executive base rate is £171,700, in Oldham it is £163,000 and in Tameside it is £168,598.

Part of the reasoning for the increase is the council and Bury Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are merging services, which will see a £300 million local health budget come under the purview of the Bury chief executive.

Another reason given is the lead role the chief executive will have to play within the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

Conservative group leader Cllr James Daly asked the panel if there would be any sums paid to the chief executive on top of the salary. He specifically questioned the additional payment for being the returning officer for the borough, which stands at around £10,000.

Cllr Daly felt the salary on offer should surely cover the cost of acting as a returning officer.

Cllr Shori said he and Tracy Murphy, assistant director of resources and regulation, would have to check whether this was a contractual issue and whether they could tailor the job description as Cllr Daly suggested.

Cllr Daly also questioned whether a lower salary could be offered, he talked of 're-evaluating it down', to perhaps save a frontline job, for example a care worker, which would impact the public directly.

Cllr Eamonn O'Brien, cabinet member for finance and housing, said 'you have to think, 'what can a top calibre candidate bring in?''

Ideally, the councillors hoped the right person would be able to make savings and run the council more efficiently.

Cllrs Shori, Pickstone, Daly, Trevor Holt and Eamonn O'Brien were at the meeting. Only Cllr Daly voted against recommending the salary increase to the council.

Bury Council has recruited executive search organisation Penna to find suitable candidates and has previously agreed to advertise the job from February.

It is hoped the successful applicant will be in position in time for the Annual Council Meeting in May.

The role of interim chief executive is currently held by Pat Greenhalgh-Jones, she will remain in the position on the current base salary.