Director of Bristol Energy paid £250,000 as council-owned firm lost £10 million

September 04 2019
Director of Bristol Energy paid £250,000 as council-owned firm lost £10 million

THE highest-paid director of a council-owned energy company took home close to £250,000 last year, as the firm racked up losses of more than £10 million.

The figures were revealed in Bristol Energy’s latest accounts, which came under scrutiny from councillors in August.

The director, who has not been named, was paid a total of £242,346 in the 2018/19 financial year, which included an exit package when they left.

Bristol Energy reported a loss of £10.1million last financial year, and does not expect to turn a profit for another five years. It is relying on the continued financial support of the council, which has already spent around £30million to keep the firm afloat.

Managing director Marek Majewicz said the company had growing customer numbers and had provided £6.8million worth of “social value” for Bristol.

Mr Majewicz said turnover rose by 45 per cent in 2018/19 and gross profit had grown by 55 per cent.

But members of the council’s overview and scrutiny management board, pictured at the meeting, above, said they were still “very, very worried” about the future of the company – and questioned both the pay increase for the highest-paid director and the inclusion of salaries in the calculation of social value.

Labour councillor Mark Brain said: “I would say while we’re having these financial difficulties and we’re having to be propped up by contributions from the council, that pay increases like that for the highest paid director, I don’t think is justified.”

Conservative councillor Claire Hiscott said paying someone “approximately a quarter of a million pounds” did not fit with the company’s stated commitment to social value.

I see no social value in that at all,” she said.

Mr Majewicz, who became managing director after Peter Haigh’s departure in December of last year, said that two previously homeless people had “very good” jobs at Bristol Energy and that the firm offered apprenticeships to young people.

The scrutiny board heard that the company calculates social value by taking into account the salaries of staff and directors with Bristol postcodes, carbon savings from renewable energy production, the use of local suppliers, apprenticeships, charitable donations and fundraising.

But Cllr Hiscott said she would rather that salaries were not included in the calculation because “that’s business, that’s not social value”.

She said the company had “spun” its performance and that each Bristol family had given £90 to Bristol Energy this year and received two pence back.

Denise Murray, the council’s finance director, told the committee that the council’s social value assessment tool would be eventually be used by Bristol Waste and other council-owned companies.

Bristol Energy has posted losses totalling £29.7million so far, including the £10.1million lost in 2018/19, its third year of trading.

Dan Millard, head of finance at Bristol Energy, told the scrutiny committee: “The losses will reduce next year, I can guarantee that.”

By Amanda Cameron, Local Democracy Reporting Service