The chief executive of Walsall Council has been given a massive £10,000 pay rise after less than a year in the job, it has been revealed.

Dr Helen Paterson's salary now stands at £175,000 a year following just ten months service, compared to Prime Minister Theresa May who earns £150,000.

Walsall Council leader Cllr Mike Bird (Con) defended the rise and said the need for talented senior officers was strong in the local government sector.

He said: "It is a necessity that the council remains competitive in the market to attract and retain skilled individuals to manage and deliver the council's vision.

Walsall Council, The Civic Centre.
Walsall Council, The Civic Centre.

"In reality this makes us an overall saving of 25 million pounds and that is beneficial to the needs of everyone in Walsall. As a council we provide 1,300 services a day. And in terms of a company, if you like, that is a turnover of 620 million."

Dr Paterson left Wrexham County Borough Council to join Walsall in November.

But whilst she will be earning more than PM Theresa May, her pay package is substantially lower than predecessor Paul Sheehan, whose salary peaked at £198, 562.

Cllr Bird said Dr Paterson's salary was still comparable with chief executives at other authorities and the need for the council to remain competitive was of utmost importance.

As the council’s most senior officer, Dr Paterson is accountable for the council’s workforce and all of the resources available for the delivery of services.

The council has 3,268 paid staff operating from more than 50 locations and a gross budget of £620.5m (2017/18). Chief executives are full time officers appointed by the whole council on merit and are not allowed to participate in any party political activity.