Occupy Bristol protesters question leaders over pay rates
PROTESTERS from the Occupy Bristol camp made the short trip to the Council House to ask questions about executive pay at the city council.
The authority last week won a court order to remove the tented village on College Green and its occupants.
Last night one protester asked the city council's leader to justify why its chief executive is paid up to £107,000 per year more now than in 1998.
Craig Clarke submitted a number of questions about the increase in officer and senior councillors' salaries to Barbara Janke at the full council meeting.
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His questions revealed that the current chief executive Jan Ormondroyd is paid 122 per cent more than her predecessor 14 years ago.
In 1998 the equivalent post received a salary between £79,000 and £87,000 but her pay band is between £184,000 and £194,000, net of benefits or pensions contributions.
The increase amounts to an approximate £7,600 pay rise every year for more than a decade, and is way above the rate of inflation.
Mr Clarke – who was among a group who tried to fight the removal of the camp at a Bristol County Court hearing on Friday – asked Mrs Janke how this could be justified.
He also asked how she could justify the increase in payments for her own position as leader, which has gone up from £20,000 in 2002 to £40,000 now.
Mrs Janke said: "I play no role in setting my salary – an independent remuneration panel makes those recommendations and they are approved by full council.
"The salaries (of senior officers) are determined by a human resources committee. It was done in the normal way with officer advice, and I have no reason to think it was in any way unusual."
Mr Clarke used the opportunity to discuss the forthcoming eviction of the College Green site. During his questions he revealed he used to work for the city council.
He asked Mrs Janke to tell him when the eviction would take place.
Mr Clarke said: "Obviously there is concern about the College Green site and the eviction. What date and time will the bailiffs come in, so members of the public can help clear the site and avoid a very embarrassing situation?
"We do not want any images of any physical violence. I have complete faith that won't happen. The Bishop of Bristol has concern about that."
Mrs Janke said she had no knowledge of what the bailiffs were doing or when.
She said: "We would welcome the protestors moving peacefully. They can go any time they wish."
Another representative of the group, Tony Cripps, also submitted a number of questions to the council regarding ethical banking.
Although he did not attend the meeting, answers were provided.
Mr Cripps wanted to know what progress the council was making on adopting ethical banking, which is one of the successes the Occupy Bristol group has claimed from its four-month occupation of College Green.
In a written response, Mrs Janke said: "Bristol City Council adopted an ethical policy for treasury management activities at a recent cabinet meeting, with all banking, including £171 million of investments, meeting this policy.
"The council currently invests predominantly in large UK financial institutions including Lloyds TSB, RBS and Nationwide, as well as making liquid deposits in call accounts and money market funds. This is due to the global uncertainty primarily in the Eurozone.
"Please note the institutions above also have their own ethical/sustainable investment policies."