New revelations over council chief

IAN CLARKE Former Breckland Council chief executive Becky Hellard walked away with a pay-off package worth around £65,000 when she resigned.Despite a veil of secrecy being maintained over the details of her departure, it has emerged Ms Hellard was given the equivalent of six months pay as part of her termination agreement plus some holiday pay and her legal fees were covered.

IAN CLARKE

Former Breckland Council chief executive Becky Hellard walked away with a pay-off package worth around £65,000 when she resigned.

Despite a veil of secrecy being maintained over the details of her departure, it has emerged Ms Hellard was given the equivalent of six months pay as part of her termination agreement plus some holiday pay and her legal fees were covered.

She earned £108,000 a year at Breckland - more than had been previously reported.

The EDP has discovered that allegations were made against her by a number of staff at the council and an investigation panel was set up.

But nothing was proved about the allegations - which Ms Hellard, 40, strenuously denied - and a so-called compromise agreement was signed by her and the council, which prevents either side commenting further.

Most Read

The new revelations - from a range of well-informed and reliable sources - about her departure have raised more questions about how Ms Hellard was given the pay-off.

The EDP will continue to press for answers to that and also who made the decision about the amount of money she should receive.

One source told the EDP: “Breckland council tax payers are the victims here.”

Ms Hellard is due to start a job next month as strategic director for corporate services with Bradford Council on up to £125,000 and we have discovered that she applied for a range of other jobs around the country.

Among the posts she went for was the £140,000-a-year chief executive's post at Portsmouth City Council.

The council has refused to say how far she got, but in October she was in the final 11 candidates for the job.

Ms Hellard - who has been on a foreign holiday - has not been contactable and Breckland has steadfastly refused to give any information.

The council has said it is keen to issue further details but can only do so when it is agreed by Ms Hellard or the authority could face a “substantial claim” for breach of contract.

In a statement last night, Breckland leader William Nunn said the council had “nothing to hide” but was “subject to normal legal restrictions in these cases which stop personal information being released.”

He said the external district auditor and the council's overview and scrutiny commission had “exonerated all the council's processes.”

Mr Nunn said Ms Hellard had fully co-operated with the investigation process and defended all the allegations and no further action was being taken against her.

He said he hoped a further statement could be agreed in the interests of both parties to “end inappropriate speculation.”