Electricity chief retires and gets double income

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The Independent Online
A "part-time" chairman of a privatised electricity company is receiving more money than before he retired as full-time chief executive.

Bryan Townsend, chairman of Midlands Electricity (MEB), is reported to be receiving a pension of about £125,000 as well as a £165,000 salary.

The double source of income was confirmed by the company, although it refused to give precise figures.

But the Birmingham Evening Mail suggests that Mr Townsend, who had worked in the electricity industry for 49 years, would be picking up around two-thirds of his £196,000 salary in pension.

Mr Townsend is now being paid £165,000 a year as chairman of the company - a post that became part-time last January. The total of pension and salary would apparently give him £100,000 more than his basic pay when he was working full time as both the chairman and chief executive.

A spokesman for MEB said last night: "There is nothing unusual in a person who has completed pensionable service continuing to work in a new appointment.

"Pension payments to any person are a private matter for the individual and his or her pension fund. They are not a cost to the company, nor to its shareholders or customers."

The switch of the chairman's post to a part-time basis is said to have allowed him "to reduce his working time to an average of 50 hours a week".

The disclosure about Mr Townsend's income was made two months after controversy erupted over the 75 per cent rise in salary paid to the chief executive of British Gas, Cedric Brown.

Brian Wilson,Labour's trade and industry spokesman, said: "This is another example of how our great public utilities have been turned into privatised licences to print money for a small number of people.

"The grotesque overpayment of a part-time chairman will be offensive to electricity consumers in the Midlands and is further evidence that tough new regulatory powers are necessary.

Paul Gallagher, the general secretary of the engineering union AEEU, said he was staggered by the news, adding: "Yet again directors and senior executives of the nation's utilities are feathering their own nests at the expense of employees and customers."