As council's continue to face hefty cutbacks and redundancy programmes the latest town hall rich list shows one chief excutive from the region walked away with almost £400,000 last year.
Gateshead's Roger Kelly came in at number seven in the top 10 highest renumerated council executives in the country as he retired last year.
The authority stressed the figure included his pension payout accrued over 25 years and that its senior management costs are actually coming down.
But the Taxpayer's Alliance insists the figure is still too much.
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UNISON will now ballot its teaching assistants in County Durham over whether to accept the offer and end a two-year pay dispute.
The number secondary pupils in Stockton taught at a school rated 'good' or 'outstanding' has almost doubled to 91 per cent since 2014.
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