WIRRAL’s new council chief could be in for a bumper pay rise.

For an enhanced pay package to the tune of £40,000 could be on the cards to attract a new chief executive.

Under the proposals the authority’s top officer could earn £175,000 a year – plus pension.

The town hall appointments committee met on Monday to work out a timetable for bringing in a new boss.

Consultants have advised councillors the present salary of £135,000 may not be enough to attract a public sector supremo of the calibre they want.

Council leader Phil Davies said the Wirral package is not competitive and consultants have advised a salary range of £155,000 to £175,000.

Deputy leader Ann McLachlan said the council’s need to make massive savings and the authority must pay “an appropriate level” to get the best candidate to steer through the multi-million pound cuts.

Tory group leader Jeff Green said the proposed pay hike was excessive and urged the Labour administration to consider the idea of a shared chief with a neighbouring authority.

But Councillor Davies has told the Globe he fundamentally disagreed with the idea the borough should not have its own top civil servant running the organisation.

The current incumbent Graham Burgess surprised almost everyone at a meeting of the council cabinet last month when he announced his early retirement, saying he plans to quit on New Year’s Eve.

The employment committee gave the go-ahead to consultancy firm Penna to come up with a shortlist of candidates and provide a timetable.

A “politically balanced” interview panel will be set up, assisted by a senior officer from the Local Government Association.

It is expected a new chief executive will be in place by April of next year.

Figures provided to the committee showed: Liverpool council pays its chief executive £197,500, Knowsley pays £160,000 while Wirral has a top rate of £135,341.

Council leader Phil Davies told the Globe: "I don't think the proposed pay increase is excessive. The reality is we are going to want the best candidates for a competitive salary, otherwise they will be attracted by other authorities.

"Clearly, when we appoint the new chief executive their main task will be to generate more savings.

"They will have to deliver savings far in excess of their salary. In a way, it's an 'invest to save' move.

"It's not out of kilter with the level of salaries offered by neighbouring authorities; we need to offer the high salary to the best candidate.

"Wirral is second to bottom of the chief executive pay. In an ideal world you wouldn't want to pay that level of salary, but that's the situation we are in.

"Those critising the proposal need to get real."