A new council chief has been appointed – on a six-figure salary which exceeds the Prime Minister’s annual pay cheque.

Penny Thompson received unanimous approval from councillors to become Brighton and Hove City Council’s new chief executive last night.

The local authority revealed she will earn £150,000 – less than the £161,500 paid to her predecessor John Barradell but more than the £142,500 paid to Prime Minister David Cameron.

Council leader Jason Kitcat said: “I’m extremely excited by Penny’s appointment and I’m delighted there was unanimous cross-party agreement.

“She will be a welcome addition to the senior management team at the council.”

When asked about the reduced salary, Coun Kitcat said it was “absolutely a conscious decision”.

He added: “We’re seeking to deliver on our manifesto commitment to cut the gap between the highest and lowest paid at the council.”

Recruitment costs

The appointment was made after a controversial recruitment process that cost the local authority £30,000 and sparked disagreements between senior councillors over the shortlist of four candidates.

Troubleshooter Conservative group leader Geoffrey Theobald said: “The panel, which included two Conservative members, unanimously agreed the appointment.”

Labour group leader Gill Mitchell said: “We welcome the appointment and look forward to working with Penny when she takes up her new post.”

Ms Thompson was the head of the General Care Social Council, which was abolished by the Government and closed in September. After training as a social worker, Ms Thompson was credited with turning around the fortunes of Sheffield City Council’s social services team and leading it out of special measures.

She then became chief executive of the London Borough of Hackney, earning a basic salary of £164,839.

She retired from the job in 2008 with a six-figure severance package, becoming a consultant to local authorities, quangos and the NHS.

This included becoming a troubleshooter at NHS Haringey in the wake of the Baby Peter case.

Ms Thompson was made a CBE for services to social care in 2012.

She will succeed Mr Barradell, who has taken up a similar role at the City of London Corporation.

A council spokeswoman said Ms Thompson will officially start her job on December 1 but said there would be a short handover period from temporary chief executive Catherine Vaughan.

Would you like to quiz key figures in the county?

Are there questions you would love to get the answers to?

We are giving you the chance to put questions to leading figures, politicians and business people across Sussex as part of a new feature called Your Interview.

We have already featured Albion chief executive Paul Barber, Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas, and Brighton businessman Mike Holland.

We are now asking our readers for questions for Brighton and Hove City Council leader Jason Kitcat.

What would you like to ask Coun Kitcat? It could be about the future of the city, council tax or how the council will make millions of pounds of savings in the coming years .

Email your questions for Coun Kitcat to tim.ridgway@theargus.co.uk or call 01273 544527.

Who would you like to grill in the future? Send us your suggestions.

See the latest news headlines from The Argus:

More news from The Argus

Follow @brightonargus

Like us on Facebook

 Add us to your circles on Google+