Belfast Telegraph

Translink's new boss to earn £44,000 less a year than his top-earning predecessor

By Claire McNeilly

The new boss of Northern Ireland's public transport provider will step into the role £44,000 worse off than his top-earning predecessor.

David Strahan was this week named new group chief executive of Translink – with a salary of almost £156,000 – and he will assume the post on a date yet to be confirmed.

He replaces outgoing boss Catherine Mason, who was Northern Ireland's highest paid public sector official until she stood down in March.

Ms Mason's £199,000 pay packet attracted criticism after it emerged she earned substantially more than Prime Minster David Cameron (at £142,000) and First Minister Peter Robinson (£114,000).

The revelation also provoked widespread anger when Translink implemented fare rises of up to 8% on bus, train and coach services last May.

A spokeswoman for the company last night confirmed that Mr Strahan's remuneration will be substantially less than the previous incumbent. She said: "The new group chief executive of Translink will have a salary of £155,823. This represents an overall saving of £44,077 compared to the previous group chief executive." Announcing its new appointee, Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company chairman John Trethowan said the post had attracted significant interest and a "very high-calibre field".

"In David Strahan, we are confident that we have found a skilled and experienced individual and the right person to lead Translink," he said.

Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy also wished Mr Strahan success. "Managing Northern Ireland's public transport system is a very important position and I am confident that with his skills and experience, David Strahan will make a valuable contribution to the work of NITHC over the coming years," he said.

Stormont regional development committee chairman Jimmy Spratt said he looked forward to meeting Mr Strahan over forthcoming projects, including Belfast Rapid Transit and the new integrated ticketing system.

Mr Strahan will take up the new post at a date to be confirmed, and Gordon Milligan will continue to act as interim group chief executive.

Originally from Northern Ireland, Mr Strahan is currently chief executive of Dee Valley Group plc, whose principal activity is the supply of drinking water to customers in north east Wales and the north west of England.

Previously, Mr Strahan was managing director of natural gas company Phoenix Supply Ltd.

Background

Last year the Belfast Telegraph revealed taxpayers had ploughed almost £130m into Translink in the previous financial year. The company's accounts showed the public transport provider received the money from Stormont between April 2011 and March 2012. Despite the huge investment, fares on buses, trains and coaches went up by up to 8% on some services.

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