WIRRAL Council has come under fire after it was revealed it is looking for an “inspirational and visionary leader” to head up its new community interest company – complete with a salary of £90,000.

The yet unnamed Schools Trading Company is looking to appoint a managing director to help set up the commercial organisation which is jointly owned by Wirral Council and Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC).

The successful candidate can expect to see a salary of between £81,810 and £90,900 plus pension and benefits, as well as being given the chance to “shape and develop” the company, which is still in the early days.

Wirral Council and CWAC agreed to form the Schools Traded Company – which will offer a range of services to almost 300 education establishments across west Cheshire and Wirral – last month.

But Cllr Jeff Green, leader of Wirral’s Conservative group, says the salary shows the administration has got their priorities “completely wrong”.

He said: “A salary of this level is coming on top of the £175,000 a year that the administration wants to pay its new chief executive. Staff who are currently going through the cuts the administration are imposing and people who are having their services withdrawn will believe that the council has got its priorities completely wrong.

“Given the decision that the administration have taken on the closure of the Lyndale School, parents will feel rightly outraged that there is money available to pay yet another senior manager within the authority.”

But Cllr Phil Davies, leader of Wirral Council, defended the job, and said the post will be funded from income generated from the company itself, and not council tax payers.

He said: “In terms of the salary, it has been pitched at this level because we need to attract the right skills and commercial acumen to manage the company.

“We looked at what similar organisations are paying – a similar post has just been advertised for Gloucestershire schools traded services with a salary of £110,000.

“The new company will have a turnover of circa £25 million. The post will be funded from income generated by the company, not from council tax payers.”

When the joint venture was first announced, Cllr Tony Smith – Wirral’s cabinet member for children and family services – said it was an “exciting opportunity” to develop a unique organisation.

He said: “Keeping the ownership of the company in the hands of our two councils enables us to reinvest in services which will benefit our communities.”

More than 1,100 full and part-time council staff are expected to transfer to the new company, which will be both a direct provider and prime contractor of services.

Wirral and CWAC are seeking “an inspirational and visionary leader” who can “combine a strong strategic and commercial background” with an understanding of the schools agenda.

The managing director will work with other executive and non-executive directors to “lead the way” and, above all, will “empower, motivate and lead staff through a time of change” to create a commercial, innovative and customer-focused organisational culture.  

Wirral and Cheshire West have worked together for six months to deliver the business case for the new company supported by a £100,000 award as part of the national Delivering Differently Programme.

CWAC’s executive member for education and children, Cllr Mark Stocks, said: “A wealth of experience and economies of scale will enable us to invest in education that directly benefits schools and children.

“This venture will also help to protect the jobs of our staff whilst working in a growing, thriving business, investing in front line services and retaining that public sector ethos.”