THE number of Dorset Council staff earning more than £100,000 a year has reduced - but it's still far too many, a councillor says.

A report reveals Dorset Council's top earners - with 17 employees earning more than £100,000.

This number has reduced compared to the previous year - however the authority is still ranked the fourth top spending council in the south west.

Lib Dem leader on the authority Nick Ireland said: "We just think people get paid too much at the top and get an awful lot of money for what they do.

"There is scope for one of the director roles to go – after five years of existence it is probably good to have a rethink.

"We are better off recruiting three planning officers than one executive director."

The Taxpayers’ Alliance Town Hall Rich List shows that in the financial year ending March 2023, the council paid £2,323,000 to 17 employees who earn more than £100k a year.

The report discloses the latest figures on a council-by-council breakdown of local government executive salaries earning six-figures.

READ: 2023 'Town Hall Rich List' on Dorset Council's top earners

Dorset Council spent the fourth most of any council in the south west area, and paid more than the Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole council (BCP), which paid 17 employees earning over £100,000 a total of £2,254, 812.

The region's top spender was Cornwall which employs 20 people with an annual salary of more than £100k, spending £2,645,196.

Cllr Paul Kimber, who represents Portland, says it is a 'scary system' and was 'surprised' the council paid more than BCP.

He added: "We have to look after the poorest paid first, and there are a lot of people not earning anywhere near that on Dorset Council.

"On Portland we are a very poor community and £100,000 is a lot of money, however, on the other side we have to try and attract people to the workforce. It is important we get best people for our money."

Dorset Echo: County Hall in DorchesterCounty Hall in Dorchester (Image: Newsquest)

Dorset Council’s highest paid employee was chief executive, Matt Prosser, who had a salary of £162,000, with a pension contribution of £26,000 – a total of £191,000.

His salary was almost the same as the prime minister that year who had a salary entitlement of £164,951.

Four executive directors, including Vivienne Broadhurst, Theresa Leavey, Aidan Dunn and John Sellgren all received a package of £173,000, which included a pension contribution of £26,000.

Sam Crowe, director of public received a total of £159,000, including a pension contribution of £24,000.

The remaining 11 employees names were not disclosed in the report.

READ: Bonus payment plan to keep senior officers at Dorset Council

In the previous year, Dorset Council had topped the list of most employees earning over £100,000 with 23.

Council leader Spencer Flower has previously defended six-figure salaries for many senior council officers saying that if the authority did not pay ‘the going rate’ it would be unable to attract, or retain, the key staff it needed in a nationally competitive market.

A spokesperson for Dorset Council said: “Dorset Council has made savings of over £96 million since being created in 2019, which has been re-invested to protect frontline services.

“This has been achieved, in part, by reducing the number and duplication of management posts.

“For example, four chief executives from the legacy district and borough councils and the county council were replaced by one for Dorset Council.”

Whilst the council has reduced the overall number of employees taking home a six-figure annual income, there were some slight increases to the salaries that are still being paid to its executive management posts.

The role of chief executive will be earning £180,565 for the financial year ending March 2025, executive directors will be earning salaries of between £134,112 up to £150,628, these figures do not include pension contributions.

The council added: “The slight increase in some highlighted salaries is a result of the annual cost of living pay increases, the terms and conditions of which are negotiated and set nationally and applies to all Dorset Council staff.

“Dorset Council provides around 450 services to 380,000 residents. Council tax has been increased by 3 per cent for 2024/25 and the adult social care precept by just under 2 per cent. This ensures that the council can continue to deliver all of those services and to date, no cuts have been made.”