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Fat Cat Furore

PUBLISHED: 12:43 25 June 2009 | UPDATED: 16:52 25 August 2010

FIGURES show council fat cats have awarded themselves inflation busting pay rises at a time when private sector workers are brought to their knees in the recession.

FIGURES show council fat cats have awarded themselves inflation busting pay rises at a time when private sector workers are brought to their knees in the recession.

The number of earners at Greenwich council on a salary between £50,000 and £189,999 has increased from 442 to 569 at a time when private sector taxpayers are experiencing pay freezes and pay cuts.

Over the last two years council employees have seen a 10 percent pay rise overall - well above inflation - and the pension deficit has nearly doubled in one year from £149 million in April 2008 to £270 million April 2009.

Shadow council leader Spencer Drury said: "Council pay has got to reflect the economy as a whole, if public sector pay keeps rising at the current rate then taxpayers are going to get pretty angry.

"There are more senior staff earning a pretty decent salary than ever before. I think people are more concerned whether their streets are getting cleaned."

Accounts scrutinised by the Times also show it is in the red to the tune of £252 million pounds.

It represents a drop of more than half a billion pounds from the previous year, March 2007 to 2008, when it reported a £250 million surplus.

Council shadow leader Spencer Drury described the council's reliance on house values as a "very risky strategy".

In the year to March 2009, £220 million has been wiped off the value of council housing.

Mr Drury said: "They put a lot of faith in being able to sell council property on the open market and a lot of their forecasts were based on that, which collapsed.

"It's a very risky strategy based on good property prices and developers being able to build things.

"Given there is a £15,000 penalty for each new unit built near the proposed Cross Rail, clearly there are huge areas that will not be developed. The council is generating its own problems."

The council has written off £2.2 million of "irrecoverable debt" in the last year, compared to £68,000 in the year previously.

A Greenwich council spokesperson was unavailable to comment.

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