Chief executive’s pay rise is ‘a reward for failure’

editorial image

The chief executive of East Renfrewshire’s struggling Culture and Leisure Trust has been handed a bumper pay rise.

Anthony McReavy’s wage went up from £65,099 to £73,814 despite the Trust being financially bailed out by the council earlier this year.

Local authority chiefs handed over £225,000 to cover a huge overspend by the Trust earlier this year.

And they were forced to write two ‘letters of comfort’ promising ongoing support to ensure the organisation could continue to operate.

Trust bosses branded Mr McReavy’s original salary as an “anomaly”, and claimed the increased wage was given to bring him closer to the levels enjoyed by council heads of services.

But Conservative councillor Jim Swift has hit out at pay rise, claiming it is a reward for failure.

He said: “Why is it that rather than saving money, which it was set up to do, the Leisure Trust is costing money?

“It got an additional bung from the council last year of over £225,000, because it couldn’t meet a financial budget that it set for itself.

“It has had to get a letter of comfort from the council attesting to the council’s commitment to ongoing support, because the Trust’s net worth is less than £0.

“How does the Trust’s board treat the captain of this financially failing entity? Whilst on one hand, the Council has had to bail it out, the board has allocated a pay rise to the chief executive from £65,099 to £73,814, that’s £8,714 or 13.4 per cent.

“Who else in the public sector has had a raise like that? Nobody. And who has paid for it? The East Renfrewshire taxpayer.”

Mr McReavy has come under fire recently for speaking out in support of building a new Eastwood Leisure Centre away from its current site.

But East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure Trust pointed to participation figures and tax savings as proof of his value.

A spokesman said: “The Trust provides non-domestic rates savings of more than £500,000 each year and has also delivered a significant reduction in spending while improving leisure and culture services across East Renfrewshire.

“While our management fee from the council has fallen, our commercial income is up 18 per cent and attendances at leisure centres, Eastwood  Theatre, libraries and gyms are at a five-year high.

“When we launched in 2015, our chief executive’s pay was set some way below that of service heads at the council and that of chief executives at other leisure trusts.

“Last year, as part of a wider management review, that anomaly was addressed, and a pay rise was approved unanimously by the board, including independent members and councillors from all parties.”

East Renfrewshire Council’s Provost Jim Fletcher added: “We support proper wage increases for our staff. That includes the East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure Trust. The auditors are saying that we’re meeting the challenges very well.”

Since the establishment of the Trust, East Renfrewshire Council has saved £420,000 per year on non-domestic rates relief and VAT efficiencies.