THE chief executive of York’s city council has been handed one of the highest-paid jobs in local government after being chosen to head up the metropolitan authority in nearby Bradford.
Kersten England replaces Tony Reeves, who left City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council last year after eight years in the job to take up a role with accountants Deloitte.
His pay, including salary, pension contributions and expenses, at Bradford was reported by the Taxpayers’ Alliance in 2012 to be £227,234, though the figure was disputed by the council.
In 2003 the Bradford authority was criticised for offering a £200,000 salary package to its incoming boss - £25,000 more than then-Prime Minister Tony Blair. The figure made the Bradford post holder the highest paid council chief executive in Britain at that time.
Ms England, whose appointment is subject to approval at a full meeting of Bradford council next month, said: “It is with both the excitement of a new challenge and great sadness in knowing what a special city I am leaving behind, that I confirm I have been offered the post of chief executive at City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council.”
In her five years running City of York Council, Ms England, 53, who has three children and two stepchildren, has overseen two new “park and ride” sites, a community stadium and the York Sports Village.
She was previously group director of community services at Calderdale Council in Halifax, and regional director of local government practice at the now-disbanded Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber.
Mr Reeves announced his departure last July. It emerged in December that the five shortlisted candidates to replace him had all been rejected for the post.
Bradford council leader David Green, who was chairman of the recruitment panel, said the role was “one of the biggest officer jobs in local government”.
Tory councillor Michael Ellis, also on the panel that interviewed Ms England, said the chief executive’s salary of £178,476 had been ratified by the council and was low compared to some “much smaller authorities [who pay] in excess of £200,000 per year”.
He said the £227,234 figure from 2012 was “exaggerated” and that chief executives usually increased their salary with separate payments for being the returning officer at elections, which came from central government rather than the council itself.
He said dealing with shrinking government funds, adult social care and improving connectivity in the North would be among the issues Ms England would be faced with in her job.
York is currently run by a minority Labour administration after defections robbed it of overall control. Council leader James Alexander announced in November that he was to step down.
He said that “Bradford’s gain was York’s loss”, adding: “Kersten has been a tireless public servant to local government and to York in recent years.”
Leader of City of York Council Dafydd Williams praised Ms England for “the significant and very valuable contribution she has made to leading the officer team in driving forward the priorities of the council for the past six years”.
Chris Steward, group leader for York Conservatives, declined to comment in detail on Ms England’s time in the role.
He said he wished her well but added: “She leaves a council that has very significant problems but they are in the main the making of the Labour cabinet rather than her.”