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Saturday, 12 July 2008

Amazing Pay-off for Nottingham Deputy

There was surprise when it emerged Nottingham City Council’s deputy chief executive Adrienne Roberts is to be moved on.

But there was complete amazement at the £500,000 package with which she will depart the city.

It comes, of course, hard on the heels of former chief executive Michael Frater’s departure. He only cost council tax payers £230,000 when he left following a fall out with city council leader Jon Collins. That almost looks like value now.

And then there were the other two chief executives who left with cash in recent years - Gordon Mitchell (c.£150,000) and John Jackson (c£100,000).

The latest pay off is a bit different, however. The council was forced to do a deal with the three men because the politicians wanted rid of them. For whatever reason, their faces did not fit.

In this case, Ms Roberts is receiving compensation according to the terms of her contract, since she is being made redundant in a management restructuring. By forcing her out now the city council has to make up her pension and that is by far the greatest share of the cost.

So, at least on a personal level, it is possible to feel a little bit sorry for Ms Roberts, when one reads the comments on the Evening Post website suggesting she is unfairly filling her boots.

As far as we know, she did not want to be in this position, she did not want to go. And she is generally regarded as diligent local Government officer.

She reminded me of the bass player in a hard rock band - someone whose job it is to maintain a steady rhythm and keep her head, while all around her others are losing theirs.

Perhaps that is how she saw herself when she took over as acting chief executive of the city council following Mr Mitchell’s early exit and then again when Mr Frater left.

The truth is, responsibility for the £500,000 cost to council tax payers that will result from her departure does not rest with Ms Roberts. It is with those who decided to remove her.

The city council’s consultant chief executive, Jane Todd, says the decision was hers. She is merging the posts of director of resources and deputy chief executive in order to make savings and improve efficiency.

The city council says the £500,000 cost of severance will be met in three years and then savings will ensue.

However, Ms Todd’s position is made a little awkward by the fact that the city council’s senior management team has only just undergone a major restructure - under Mr Frater’s stewardship. Fourteen jobs were axed in April last year in a bid to save £1m annually.

Why more change now?

Opposition politicians have suggested that what may lie behind the latest tinkering is more blood letting. Another face that did not fit at Nottingham City Council, perhaps one that was part of the old Frater regime?

Hopefully, that is not the case. But just taking the matter at face value council tax payers still have reason to be concerned.

This woman was only in post for four years and she is now being paid off. It is hard to see how residents have obtained value for money.

Furthermore, constant restructuring (and the costs associated with it) could be seen as the inevitable consequence of repeatedly removing chief executives at the city council.

Each incumbent has their own ideas. Mr Mitchell, Mr Frater and now Ms Todd have all implemented their own restructuring.

Ms Todd is an interim chief executive, only contracted for 12 months. Will the next post holder want more changes at yet more expense?

Charles Walker

Political Editor

1 comment:

grumpy_grandad said...

Yet another rip off by the Council. If they do not pay her off , the others to folow wo,nt get there money. Lynn Pennington was just the same , messed up the City Homes, and finished with a pay off, I understand she was moved from Liverpool for the same thing. Is it not time the people were sacked and made to get a proper job in stead of costing us money all the time. The MP's are the same, voted to keep there exspencers instead of a pay rise. just watch in a couple of months, they will go for the rise when they think people have forgotten