EIGHTEEN high-earning council staff across Worcestershire were paid more than £100,000 last year, it has emerged.

The tally of so-called 'fat cats' include eight senior bosses at Worcestershire County Council, with a national pressure group calling the handouts "galling".

But the leadership at County Hall has pointed to a fall in the paying of big salaries in recent years, saying it has reduced by more than a third since 2008.

The new ' town hall rich list' data, published by the Taxpayer's Alliance, shows:

- In the 2012/13 financial year former county council chief executive Trish Haines topped Worcestershire's pay pile by earning £176,678

- Five county council directors took home between £112,998-£124,296 in basic pay including Gail Quinton, who is responsible for children's care, Dianne Tilley, who looked after planning before being made redundant, finance chief Patrick Birch, business director John Hobbs, and former adult services boss Eddie Clarke

- Other big earners include Worcester City Council managing director Duncan Sharkey, who earns £105,824 and Jack Hegarty, chief executive of Wychavon District Council who gets between £101,611 and £107,004

- Malvern Hills District Council boss Chris Bocock was also among the top earners, on £104,999

- Wyre Forest District Council chief executive Ian Miller earns £107,831 and Kevin Dicks gets £124,000 running councils in Bromsgrove and Redditch

- The rest of the list is made up of council employees who earned below £100,000 in basic pay but were made redundant and qualified for pay-offs, taking them over the six-figure threshold

The data does not include new county council chief executive Clare Marchant, who took over the top job in June on £151,000 per year and was paid £75,800 as the deputy previously.

Since the figures were compiled Mr Clarke has retired from County Hall and his old post deleted after his responsibilities were handed to Dr Richard Harling.

Mrs Marchant's old assistant county council chief executive brief has also been scrapped, meaning the figures for 2013/14 should show another fall in big earners, especially as it will not include Ms Tilley.

District councils in Malvern and Wychavon are also exploring sharing one chief executive to save cash.

Despite the fall the Taxpayer's Alliance says it is time for councils to stop "pleading poverty" and whacking up council tax.

In April the county council ended four years of freezes by increasing bills just under two per cent, saying it would help fund extra investment into children's services.

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive, said: "It is good news the number of senior council staff making more than £100,000 a year is falling, although that may only be because many authorities have finished paying eye watering redundancy bills.

"It's particularly galling in places where councils are pleading poverty and demanding more and more in council tax.

"Taxpayers expect their council to be filling potholes, not pay packets."

Councillor Peter McDonald, leader of the opposition Labour group said: "Paying the people at the top these sort of salaries cannot be justified.

"The highest earner is on around 13 times more than the bottom one - I don't think that can ever be right."

Councillor Adrian Hardman, the leader, said: "If you go back seven or eight years we had far more, it was seven directors.

"We've now got four directors and it comes to a point where it would be far more difficult to take more out.

"We've made a lot of savings in this area."

The county council now has five employees earning more than £100,000 per year, which is broadly comparable with similar-sized authorities around the UK.

The rich list shows 20 staff at Birmingham City Council got six figures, 10 at Gloucestershire County Council and seven at Wolverhampton City Council.

There were eight at both Herefordshire Council and Warwickshire County Council respectively.