HUNDREDS of taxpayers have signed a petition calling on senior Bexley Council officers to take pay cuts in these times of austerity.

The Bexley Council Monitoring Group, an independent body representing the views of the borough's residents, handed in the 2,219-strong petition on Friday (December 9), demanding salaries are capped at £100,000.

Chief executive of the council Will Tuckley was named last year as the 37th highest paid local government worker in the UK, according to figures collected by BBC Panorama.

According to their numbers, last year he received a handsome £206,439.

Petition organiser Elwyn Bryant, of Salisbury Road, Bexley, has spent four months collecting signatures.

The 75-year-old said: “Door knocking was quite effective - people were really receptive.

“A lot of people did not know how much money they earn.

“They are very angry by it.

“Their first reaction is ‘What do they do for it?’

“We are paying their wages but the council is saying it has nothing to do with us.

“It’s outrageous.”

The monitoring group is appealing to the council's leader Councillor Teresa O’Neill to ensure no senior official’s salary exceeds £100,000.

Bexley Council's response

A spokeman for Bexley Council says the petition is “inaccurate and misleading.”

He added: “As part of its 2014 programme the council has reduced the benefits available to senior staff, made no cost of living award for three years and asked managers to undertake even broader and more demanding roles as a result of cutting the number of director level posts by 33 per cent.

“The council has in place procedures to ensure that staff perform to a high level.

“The council's senior officers undertake complex and difficult roles that require a high degree of skill and professional expertise.

“The council is a large and multifaceted organisation with a turnover of more than £500m, is the largest employer in the borough and has responsibilities ranging from child protection to refuse collection.

“We have an admirable track record at reducing cost and being transparent.

“We were one of the first councils to publish these figures on our website.

“We need skilled and committed staff to deliver excellent services to our residents and the remuneration packages paid to staff reflect this requirement and have been developed over time with the support independent specialists the Hay Group.

“Remuneration of individual staff is enshrined in legally binding contracts of employment.

“It is not appropriate or constitutional to discuss the circumstances of individual officers at a public council meeting - and this has been explained to the organisers of the petition on a number of occasions”.

In other south east London local authorities, Bromley Council’s chief executive Doug Patterson earns £177,135, while Lewisham Council’s chief executive Barry Quirk has cut down to three days a week and earns £115,432.