Former Norfolk County Council chief executive’s £100k payoff

David White, the former chief executive of Norfolk County Council.

David White, the former chief executive of Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Simon Finlay

The former chief executive of Norfolk County Council received a payoff of about £70,000 more than councillors were told he would get when they agreed to make him redundant - but the ex-leader of the authority has insisted there was no attempt to hide the payment.

When councillors agreed in January that David White should be made redundant they were told, in a report drawn up by officers and presented to the full county council, that the costs of him leaving would be £35,439.75 in redundancy pay and £44,752.79 to be put into the pension fund.

But, in the council's draft statement of accounts it has emerged Mr White was paid a further £63,600 as 'payment for contractual notice' and £7,100 for untaken annual leave, pushing the total amount he got on leaving above £100,000.

Mr White, who left the authority at the end of April had recommended his own departure, saying that, with the council looking to become more commercially-driven, it was 'crystal clear' the new top officer at County Hall would need a 'level of commercial skill and expertise' he did not have.

He had been on a salary of £205,300 and had been at the county council for six years.

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Conservative Bill Borrett, who was acting leader when the payment was agreed, said there had been no attempt to conceal what Mr White received.

He said: 'I have not tried to hide anything. I am not an expert on contracts but the figures given [in the report to the county council] were the ones for him going. They were what he was being paid to go, which was £35,439.75.'

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When asked whether councillors should have been told he would be receiving an extra payment for his contractual notice and untaken annual leave, Mr Borrett said: 'Everyone knew he was on notice because all the directors are on three month's notice.

'The pension and the notice period we were obliged to pay him anyway, whether he stayed or went.

'And in the end he did end up working for most of that period. We wanted everything to be done properly and above board and I believe it was.

'There's no political spin to this. It was the normal process for it.'

George Nobbs, the Labour leader of Norfolk County Council, who succeeded Mr Borrett as leader following May's elections, said: 'The arrangements and conditions surrounding the end of David White's employment with this authority were a matter for the previous administration.

'As people will readily understand, I was neither a member of, nor a supporter of, that administration, and so was not privy to any decisions taken at that time about the precise arrangements and conditions of his leaving.

'I am entirely satisfied from my own subsequent enquiries that any arrangements entered into were decided by my predecessor and the then cabinet - as was their legitimate right.'

One of that cabinet was Conservative Cliff Jordan, portfolio holder for efficiency. He said: 'What he got was what he was entitled to. What I was sure about was that he was not going to be paid a lot to go.

'I know that Eric Pickles [secretary of state for communities and local government] couldn't get over how cheaply we got away with it, compared to somewhere like Suffolk.'

That was a reference to Andrea Hill, chief executive of Suffolk County Council, who received a payment of £219,000 - equal to a year of her salary - when she left in 2011.

But retired solicitor John Martin, from Great Witchingham, who discovered the extra payment to Mr White during a trawl of the county council's accounts, said: 'The full council voted to make David White redundant - at his own request - on the basis of totally incomplete financial information.'

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