Senior managers are set to receive salary increases of almost 16 per cent, following a realignment of pay at Wiltshire Council.

The move comes just weeks after 252 junior staff jobs were axed following an appeal for voluntary redundancies. The workforce has been reduced by 5.7 per cent.

The council’s staffing committee agreed yesterday to approve plans to renegotiate pay for corporate and service directors, which could see some managers receiving an extra £19,000 a year.

Under the council’s management contracts it is committed to pay staff the national median salary, and a recent pay review found those in top positions had slipped below the average.

The change comes as a new management structure is implemented that will see the number of service directors reduced. This means the total budget for senior salaries will fall, even though individual managers will be paid more.

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Stuart Wheeler said: “We are now coming out of the downturn, there are more jobs available, and we see more employment opportunities out there. If we don’t do this and get ourselves back into the competitive area we run the risk of losing some excellent officers.”

Council leader Jane Scott said: “The biggest risk for me is that we can’t recruit new managers. We already have key posts that we can’t recruit to.

“Why would people come to Wiltshire at the very lowest of local government pay rates, and take the highest of responsibilities in local government services?”

The move has attracted criticism in light of the one per cent pay freeze for council staff imposed by the Coalition Government.

Independent councillor Jeff Osborn said: “This is a gross inequality, and all this will do is add to the greater loss of morale.

“Staff members in middle-ranking roles are saying this is the final straw; if you were on 30 or 40 grand a year and only getting a one per cent pay rise and you looked up and saw your immediate boss getting his salary jacked you wouldn’t be happy.”