Suffolk: Councils to vote of ‘golden goodbye’ pay-offs, rules Eric Pickles

Eric Pickles

Eric Pickles - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2011

GOLDEN goodbye pay-offs handed to senior townhall officials should be approved with a full council vote, the Government has said.

The measure was set out in guidance published by local government secretary Eric Pickles, which also tasked councils to have a full vote on hiring officers set to earn above £100,000.

Mr Pickles wrote to all councils telling them that if they did not follow the guidance, he would act to “require” them to do so.

There was controversy when former Suffolk County Council chief executive Andrea Hill received more than £218,000 when she left the authority.

Mr Pickles said: “For too long, local government has made severance pay arrangements away from the eyes of those who get left with the bill; the taxpayer.

“Town hall chief executives are well paid, so if they are not up to the job councils need to part ways with them fairly.

“Quietly agreeing to thousands in under-the-counter parachute pay-offs for departing bureaucrats is not the way to achieve this.”

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Mr Pickles said he would also make changes to dismissal and disciplinary proceedings so that authorities no longer had to appoint an independent investigator to review misconduct allegations; something he said had seen pay-offs jump.

He added: “Councils have a responsibility to the public and transparency is at the heart of that. By shining a light on excessive public pay and introducing new democratic checks and balances to senior salaries we are helping councils improve accountability in local government.”

Current leader Mark Bee said: “I think the secretary of state’s guidance is democratic and stops councils getting into a difficult position where one group of senior councillors are pushing for something that doesn’t fit with what the membership wants.

“I think it’s a good idea if it can be implemented.”

Meanwhile Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere said: “Localism is all very well and good, but it seems to involve us being told what to do from London.

“When it comes to staff leaving the authority we already have scrutiny of that. Last year we had a major senior management restructuring which saved us £500,000 a year.

“That went through the human resources committee and I don’t see what would have been gained by sending it through the full council.”

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