Hard-up town halls across Lancashire paid eye-watering six-figure salaries to 50 council officials last year – while suffering devastating cuts to their budgets.
The figure, a 25% increase on the previous 12 months, included England’s highest-paid local government employee.
David McElhinney pocketed a staggering £280,000 from Lancashire County Council for heading the now defunct One Connect Limited – on top of a similar role for Liverpool City Council.
While the number of senior council staff earning more than £100,000 fell nationally, the Red Rose county showed an increase of a quarter on the 40 officers taking home bumper pay packets a year earlier.
The revelations come in the latest Town Hall Rich List, an annual survey by the Taxpayers’ Alliance.
A spokesman said: “Sadly too many local authorities are still increasing the number of highly paid staff on their payroll.
“It’s particularly galling in places where councils are pleading poverty and demanding more and more in council tax.
“Taxpayers expect their council to be filling potholes, not pay packets.
“Many rank-and-file staff in local councils will be equally appalled – at a time when councils across the country are freezing pay.
“It appears the money they’re saving is being used to line the pockets of town hall tycoons.”
In Lancashire, the biggest number of top bracket earners came at County Hall, where 13 senior staff were paid £100,000-plus in 2012/13, the same number as the previous year.
The county council is currently downsizing, trying to lose 2,500 jobs and make budget cuts of £300m – on top of £220m already saved over the last three years.
Close behind LCC was Blackburn with Darwen, a unitary authority which increased its number of six-figure salaries from nine to 12.
Blackpool, also operating outside the county family, doubled its big earners from three to six.
Of the districts which form part of the county council, Preston was out in front with five – an increase of two on the previous 12 months.
Chorley was up from two to three.
And West Lancashire paid two of its executives more than £100,000, the first time salaries had ever gone that high.
All the other district authorities, Pendle, South Ribble, Fylde, Wyre, Lancaster, Ribble Valley, Rossendale, Burnley and Hyndburn, had one six-figure earner each - their chief executives.
Only Lancaster (down from three to one) and Burnley (down from two to one) bucked the county trend and showed a decrease in the number of officers earning six-figure salaries.