Suffolk: Departing Babergh and Mid Suffolk council chiefs to get �500,000 pay-off

COUNCIL taxpayers in two Suffolk districts are facing a bill of more than half a million pounds to pay for the departures of their chief executives, we can reveal.

Pat Rockall and Andrew Good are due to leave Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils in May after new chief executive Charlotte (Charlie) Adan takes over the role of chief executive of both councils.

Mrs Rockall, 56, will get a redundancy payment of �95,700 while Mr Good, who will also be 56 by the time he departs, will receive �84,500.

However it is their “pension pot” top-ups – under rules laid down by the local government pension scheme which covers authorities across England and Wales – that are the major expenses.

Mrs Rockall’s “pension pot” will be boosted by a one-off payment of �173,800 while Mr Good’s “pension pot” will be increased by �159,200.

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That will enable both of them to be able to take early retirement on leaving their council posts.

The chairman of Babergh’s strategy committee Nicholas Ridley said the payments were made in accordance with the contracts that the two chiefs worked under.

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He said: “Anyone who is over 55 can take early retirement and the authority has to make payments to cover that.” The normal retirement age for council staff is 60, under the provisions of the local government pension scheme.

He said both chief executives were receiving the minimum redundancy payments that were applicable because their positions were both ceasing to exist.

Mrs Rockall and Mr Good both said earlier this year that they would not be applying for the new combined job.

Last year Mrs Rockall earned �119,614 while Mr Good earned �101,539. Ms Adan will earn �111,467.

A spokesman for Babergh said Mrs Rockall and Mr Good would be able to look for other work after leaving their positions with the councils – however if their total earnings exceeded what they had been on as chief executive their pension payments would be cut back so they did not exceed this figure.

Mid Suffolk council leader Tim Passmore said he was not happy about the high figures involved, but it was written into their contracts and they had to be honoured.

He said: “Andrew Good has been a public servant for 40 years and this is the contract that exists – he will be getting the same kind of package that anyone would get.

“Anyone who leaves over the age of 55 is entitled to take early retirement and have their pensions made up. That may well change in the future in the wake of the Hutton Report but that is the situation at the moment.”

Mr Passmore said the savings on the cost of the merged services, and especially the appointment of a single chief executive meant that the costs of the changes would be covered in two years.

However the move did not impress Babergh Liberal Democrat Brian Lazenby who represents the South Cosford Ward near Hadleigh.

He said: “There are a lot of people who will be very shocked at the cost of this to the two districts – it is a great deal of money to find.”

Ms Adan will take over as chief executive of Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils in May.

She started work as a solicitor but has worked in the public sector for the last 17 years – most recently as interim assistant chief executive of Herefordshire public services partnership.

Ms Adan already knows the area well – her family home was in Lavenham.

She said: “I’m thrilled to be joining two councils that have track records of always trying to do things better and who are responding to the squeeze being placed on public sector finances in such an imaginative and forward-thinking way.

“I understand what change in organisations looks and feels like and I will be able to help guide councillors, staff, partners and the people of Babergh and Mid Suffolk who we serve through this period of transition.

“Change can be challenging, but change can also be rewarding and I hope I will be a catalyst for positive outcomes in the years ahead.

“I’m also delighted to be returning to a part of the world that I know and love and look forward to giving my very best to the people of Babergh and Mid Suffolk.”

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