NEWS that a council chief executive has had his salary bumped up to £110,000 has been met with anger and outrage.

It means that George Garlick, the chief executive of Stockton Borough Council, earns about £2,000-a-week since the council decided to increase his pay by £12,500 to £110,000 a year.

The increase puts him above Middlesbrough's chief executive John Foster, who earns £100,000 and Redcar and Cleveland's Colin Moore, who earns £83,000.

Hartlepool Borough Council refused to say what its chief executive earns.

The pay increase has infuriated Linda Roberts, chairwoman of the learning disability interest group in Stockton.

Speaking after a decision to axe a £5-a-week payment to people with learning disabilities who attend adult education centres, she said: "I think it is obscene.

"This is an absolute kick in the teeth.

"It just beggars belief how they expect people to take this on board and accept it. We had our £5-a-week taken away because we were told they needed to cut costs. It is dreadful if this is the reason we lost our allowance."

Frank Cook, MP for Stockton North, also criticised the decision, asking how such an increase could be justified.

He said: "This is almost as much as the Prime Minister. I would like to know what he has done to deserve it."

However, the decision has been defended by councillor Bob Gibson, leader of Stockton Borough Council, who said that with George Garlick as Stockton's chief executive, the council has become one of the leading unitary authorities in the country.

He said that, without the shift in pay, the council believed it would not be possible to retain the current chief executive.