The former leader of the council criticised her successor after two senior jobs were advertised with six-figure salaries.
Labour councillor Nancy Platts told Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, the Green leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, that a plan drawn up on her watch would have saved £116,000.
But Councillor Mac Cafferty hit back, saying that he had inherited an interim executive costing £999 a day – or almost £5,000 for a five-day week.
He was referring to Rachel Sharpe, the interim executive director of housing, neighbourhoods and communities.
The pay row played out at a virtual meeting of the full council when Councillor Platts said: “The Labour group worked over several months with the executive leadership team to design a new senior management structure that would have covered all the bases and saved over £116,000 from the council’s budget.
“We are disappointed to see these plans dropped without consultation and new posts advertised on salaries over £100,000.
“We find this particularly inappropriate given the number of people losing their jobs, businesses and livelihoods right now.”
The council has advertised for a new executive director for families, children and learning and a new executive director for housing, neighbourhoods and communities.
The salary for each post is £114,503 to £125,407.
Councillor Mac Cafferty said that employing executives on permanent contracts – estimated at £803 a day – would save council taxpayers money in the first 100 days, rather than paying a recruitment agency.
He said: “The city needs leadership on some of the big issues. These are significant leadership roles.
“It’s everything from managing large numbers of staff to ensuring effective management of multimillion-pound budgets.”
He added that the executive director for families, children and learning had “a sobering legal responsibility as well”.
The post is currently filled by Deb Austin, acting up from her role as assistant director for children’s safeguarding and care, in place of Pinaki Ghoshal, who now works in London.
Before Mr Ghoshal left to join Lewisham council, he took temporary charge of housing, neighbourhoods and communities in Brighton and Hove after the departure of Larissa Reed.
She is the new chief executive of Swale Borough Council, in Kent, and the position in Brighton and Hove is being covered by Ms Sharpe.
Another senior post remains vacant. The council’s former executive director for finance and resources, Dave Kuenssberg, left to become finance director at the Home Office at the start of the year.
Deputy chief finance officer Nigel Manvell stepped up to cover his role but, as yet, no plans have been announced publicly to fill the post permanently.
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