AS council workers protested over pay last week, it has emerged that a town hall chief pocketed more than £310,000 last year.
Hackney Council's accounts for the last financial year show that the senior officer took home a massive pay-out, which could include redundancy payments, expenses and other allowances.
A council spokesman refused to identify the officer, saying: "The council is not able to disclose details of payments to individuals as these are confidential".
When pressed by the Gazette, he said: "I am not prepared to say anything more.
"You can spin it any way you like."
Penny Thompson, who was the council's chief executive for the first month of the year the numbers cover, received a salary of £164,839.
She suddenly announced her retirement in April after two-and-a-half years in the post
The accounts show that another officer received a payment of between £230,000 and £239,000.
Borough solicitor, Meic Sullivan Gould, quit his job the week before Ms Thompson stepped down and Hackney Homes chief executive, Steve Tucker, also retired during the period covered by the report.
It is believed that the council's current chief executive, Tim Shields, earns between £160,000 and £169,000 a year.
Matthew Waterfall, branch secretary of Unison, the trade union which represents council workers, said: "It is shocking to think that a single council officer should receive such a massive pay-out when our members, some of whom earn less than 12 grand a year, have been taking industrial action to secure a decent living pay rise.
"Taxpayers in this borough should be asking some serious questions of their council about how their money is being spent."
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the public spending watchdog, the Taxpayers' Alliance, added that it was a staggering amount to give someone in one year, especially as many Hackney families are struggling to pay their council tax.
"Whether it's a basic salary, a bonus or a severance payment, it's utterly wrong to lavish so much money on one public servant.
"The council should name who it is, so taxpayers can assess whether they gave good value for money."
At the time of going to press the council had been unable to tell the Gazette what other perks council officers were receiving and explain why more than £10 million in council housing rent arrears was written off.
Saturday, 26 July 2008
From the Hackney Gazette: