Remuneration row

Conference chiefs enjoy bumper pay packages

Marshall Dallas
Marshall Dallas has been urged to forfeit the bonus

Executives at council owned conference centres in Scotland have been handed bumper pay awards while their fellow workers struggle with cut backs.

The chief executive of Edinburgh International Conference Centre, a commercial arm of the city council, has seen his remuneration surge by nearly half.

Marshall Dallas’s total pay package totalled £230,991 – up from £157,326 in the previous year. His salary was up slightly from 2021, but his overall package was boosted by a £72,280 bonus.

The bumper pay award has raised concern when thousands of employees are coping with a cost of living squeeze and the council is looking at £80 million of cuts.

Cammy Day, the Labour leader of the council, told the Daily Record: “These pay awards are a matter for EICC’s board, however, I do not agree with bonuses like this in arms’ length companies.

“As a council we have publicly discussed and strongly urge restraint amongst these companies with regard to bonuses.

“I will stress this to the board and have asked officers to look into this situation.”

The EICC operates as an arm’s length company

SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said: “This seems like an eye-watering sum and it is not a good look – you would think the council would be more aware of the perception of payments like this.“

Green Party MSP Maggie Chapman said: “This is outrageous, especially at a time when the city’s council workers, event staff and others are struggling simply to make ends meet on a day to day basis.”

She added: “There is no doubt that the EICC and its team plays a significant role in putting Edinburgh on the world map, but that should be for the good of everyone, not just those with six-figure salaries.

“To pay an already well remunerated individual a bonus of more than £72,000 on top of a £158,711 salary while firms operating there pay bar-staff and part-time workers £10.90 an hour to serve its guests, demonstrates just how obscene the pay gap is.

“At the height of a cost of living crisis those in charge have made a grave misjudgement in this pay award and it should be reviewed urgently, while Mr Dallas could show awareness and leadership in agreeing to decline it.”

An EICC spokesperson told the Daily Record: “The bonus is based on the delivery of key criteria relating to the hotel and hotel school development, and the operating performance of the conference centre.“

Directors at the Glasgow City Council-owned Scottish Event Campus, which includes the Hydro and Armadillo, were given the top-ups totalling around £150,000, despite the local authority cutting jobs and services.

Ovo Hydro
The Hydro is part of the SEC

Chief executive Peter Duthie was awarded a £39,220 bonus, on top of his £196,101 salary. He also received £29,415 in lieu of an employer’s pension contribution, as part of a total package of £287,469.

William McFadyen, director of finance and development, was awarded a £28,929 bonus that was separate from his £144,647 salary.

Daniel Thurlow, director of exhibition sales, earned £136,215 in salary, fees and allowances, as well as a £27,243 bonus.

Director of conference sales Kathleen Warden received a £136,215 salary and a £27,243 bonus.

Gayle Shepherd, director of people and technology, was awarded an extra £26,092 in bonus, on top of her £130,459 salary. And Deborah McWilliams, director of live entertainment, earned the same as Shepherd in salary and bonus.

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Willie Rennie said: “I think Glasgow City residents will be frustrated to hear that despite public services being cut to the bone, SEC executives are taking home such large increases.

“As the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite, every penny of taxpayer money should be going towards prioritising key services and helping hard-up Scots.”

A spokesperson for the SEC said: “I can confirm our directors received a performance related pay bonus this year, forming part of the overall remuneration package of SEC executives.

“As a self-funding, private limited company, the SEC rewards talent within the organisation in line with industry benchmarking and determined by the renumeration committee of the board.”

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