Brighton and Hove City Council has been criticised for telling taxpayers the six-figure salaries of its highest paid officials are "none of your business".

Town hall chiefs across the country have revealed which of their staff earn more than £100,000 in response to a Freedom of Information request by the Taxpayers' Alliance lobby group.

But the city council refused to give a detailed response and was yesterday accused by campaigners of promoting a "culture of secrecy".

The Taxpayers' Alliance claims council tax rises are funding a growing army of "fat cat" officials and asked 230 local authorities for details of their top earners.

The pressure group named the Brighton council as one of 17 across the country to refuse the request and said it had gone to the Information Commissioner to appeal.

When quizzed by the The Argus, the council revealed four officers earn more than £100,000 a year but spokesman Brian Walsh refused to name them, and said: "It's none of your business. I don't see why we should tell you."

The response is in stark contrast to the attitude of scores of local authorities across the country who were only too happy to comply.

Taxpayers' Alliance chief executive Matthew Elliott said: "Brighton and Hove City Council should be completely open with taxpayers and reveal who gets paid what.

"It is this culture of secrecy in some town halls that needs to be dismantled."

West Sussex County Council named nine officers who earn a six-figure salary, while East Sussex County Council identified six.

Across the country the total wage bill for the 578 people on the list was £72 million - compared to £53 million for those in the same bracket the previous year.

Campaigners say the increasing salaries are contributing to inflation-busting council tax increases set to be introduced next month.

People living in Brighton and Hove are facing a rise of 4.9 per cent from next month.

Taxpayers' Alliance chairman Andrew Allum said: "Thousands of pensioners are having to choose between heating their homes and paying their council tax bills.

"It's a complete insult to their dignity that so much of their money goes down the drain on top salaries for council staff.

"Town halls need to get a grip and cut back on gold-plated salaries or they will find that council tax quickly becomes the new poll tax."

Mr Walsh declined to comment further.

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