THE five Gwent councils paid a total of 20 council employees more than £100,000 last year, figures released by a pressure group have shown.

It is two more than received that total the year before, bucking a national trend which saw the number of council staff receiving over that sum decline by five per cent across the UK.

Torfaen council employed most staff who received more than £100,000 from the authorities, the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) found.

Last year it employed six people, up from five people the year before, who received more than that total. They included its chief executive, Alison Ward, who received a total of £137,551 after her salary, other payments and the authority’s pension contributions were taken into account.

But a council spokesman said: “The chief executive and senior staff manage an organisation with a budget in excess of £250 million that delivers hundreds of different services to the residents of Torfaen. These vital public services, which include social care, education, public protection and waste, impact on people’s everyday lives.”

Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly councils also saw the number of staff receiving more than £100,000 increase.

Caerphilly council employed one more member of staff on more than £100,000 from the year before. The various people who have acted as chief executive, deputy chief executive and director of education were the best paid officers – being given £198,026, £159,243 and £139,669 respectively.

The figures were released as part of the TPA’s Town Hall Rich List. The highest remuneration package in Wales was received by Jonathan House, Cardiff council’s chief executive, who received £258,006.

The TPA’s chief executive, Jonathan Isaby, 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.”