NORTH-East councils cut nearly £16m from their management wage bills last year, new figures suggest.

Figures collected by the Taxpayers’ Alliance (TA) campaign show North-East councils spent £15.9m less paying staff earning more than £50,000-a-year in 2011-12 than they had in 2010-11.

The number of staff earning such salaries dropped by 272, to 1,204.

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In Yorkshire and the Humber, the total cost was £110m, down £25.4m; and the staff number was 1,688, down 387.

Darlington, Durham, Hartlepool, Stockton, North Yorkshire and Sunderland councils all cut staff and spending.

Newcastle saw the third biggest fall in the country, with 152 fewer staff earning more than £50,000.

However, the number at Middlesbrough council rose by seven to 70 and spending on them rose by £245,000 to nearly £4.6m.

A Middlesbrough council spokesman said this included some regradings and incremental increases, the corporate management team had been cut by a quarter and further work was being undertaken to streamline management.

There were also increases at Northumberland, Redcar and Cleveland and Harrogate.

Nationally, 28,754 council staff were paid more than £50,000, costing taxpayers £1.9 billion.

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TA, said: “Taxpayers are still paying too much for bloated bureaucracies that have been established in too many town halls over the last decade.”

However, the bill was 12.5 per cent down on the year before.

A Local Government Association spokesman said this was good news for council tax payers.

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