Norfolk County Councillors were not misled over payment made to chief executive

Norfolk County Council leader George Nobbs. Photo: Steve Adams

Norfolk County Council leader George Nobbs. Photo: Steve Adams

An investigation into the circumstances leading up to the departure of Norfolk county council's former chief executive has revealed councillors were not misled over his pay-out.

The review into the difference of about £70,000 into what the council's accounts show David White got when he left in April – compared with what the full council was told he would receive when they agreed his departure in January – was ordered by the council's leader, George Nobbs.

It was conducted by Tim Byles, himself a former chief executive, and concluded that while the council was not misled over the scale of payments to Mr White, the report given to council should have been clearer.

When councillors agreed in January that Mr 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 to £106, 100.

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The investigation showed the total cost of Mr White's departure was £163,700 when additional costs to the council of £48,000 for actuarial strain and £9,600 in national insurance costs to the council were taken into account.

As part of the investigation Mr Byles interviewed Bill Borrett, the council's then leader, and Cliff Jordan, who was then the cabinet member for efficiency.

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He also had telephone discussions with Conservative councillors Nigel Dixon and Graham Plant.

He also quizzed acting managing director Anne Gibson, monitoring officer Victoria McNeill and head of finance Paul Brittain.

In the report he posed the question as to whether the council was misled over the scale of payments made to Mr White and concluded it was not.

But he did recommend that the council was more transparent in the future.

He said: 'Officers properly reported the additional costs as a consequence of Mr White's redundancy.

'It was the issue of redundancy that the council was being asked to decide.

'However, in my view, it would have been preferable to have clearly stated the full overall costs to the council in the council report of January 2013 in order to achieve full clarity.'

Speaking after the release of the report, Mr Nobbs, said: 'I am glad to see that Mr Byles said although he would have done things differently, that he recognises that the new administration had, in the case of Lisa Christensen, learned lessons and had done things differently.'

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