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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

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Cumbria council chief executive taking early retirement

An MP and union leader today attacked the size of a pay-off to Cumbria’s outgoing council boss.

Jill Stannard photo
Jill Stannard

The county council’s Chief Officer Panel has approved an early retirement package for £170,000 a year chief executive Jill Stannard, 55, but the details have not been made public.

The pension rules for local authority employees with 40 years’ service potentially give them a retirement income of half their final salary, plus a lump sum payment.

A council spokesman said Mrs Stannard has not been given a “golden handshake”.

But some politicians and union officials expressed concern about the generous pay level for local authority bosses.

Mrs Stannard’s salary is £27,500 more than the pay of Prime Minister David Cameron.

Her retirement decision has come at a time when the authority is facing unprecedented budget reductions. In the last three years, its budget has been cut by £88 million. The council is also faced with making a further £50m in savings between April 2014 and 2016.

South Lakes MP Tim Farron hit out at the package, saying: “I don’t know the details of Jill Stannard’s retirement package because they won’t tell me.

“But it’s really important when people are struggling that they don’t think money is being spent unnecessarily on people at the top who are already being overpaid.

“A lot of us would like to take early retirement but spending money on lump sum payments for early retirement if that is what has happened for people who are already extremely well paid is not acceptable. Jill was a perfectly good chief executive but this package means she will be getting years of pension.”

Unison official Dave Armstrong said there was widespread concern about senior management pay levels compared to the pay of frontline staff.

He said: “Her pension arrangement won’t be any different to that of other local authority staff.

“But she benefits because of the sheer scale of her pay. That kind of money would pay for a lot of social workers, care workers or domiciliary staff.”

County councillor Willie Whalen, who represents the Castle ward in Carlisle, said he too was concerned. He added: “These people have to live in the real world. Salaries and pensions like this are divisive.”

The authority said that Mrs Stannard applied for early retirement “in the interest of service efficiency”.

The timing of her early retirement will coincide with a newly elected council as it starts a new four-year term, focusing on a new senior management structure designed to be effective and efficient, said a spokesman.

Ms Stannard will leave the organisation next month.

The decision to appoint an interim chief executive will have to be made by full council at a meeting on May 16. It must also put in place ‘acting up’ arrangements for other corporate directors.

Council leader Eddie Martin said: “From her very first official day as chief executive, she oversaw the successful management and recovery from the floods of 2009, always putting communities and residents first.”

Deputy leader Stewart Young said: “Jill has provided leadership at a time when the council has faced significant challenges.

“Her commitment to the organisation has always been apparent with the way she has supported staff through some very difficult times, as we strive to achieve major savings while still protecting frontline services.”

In a message to all staff, Mrs Stannard said: “My retirement opens the door for a change in the way that the council is managed at the most senior level, changes which I hope will lead to further savings.

“It has been my absolute pleasure to see the effort that our staff put into everything they do. I have formed lifelong bonds with colleagues who have been by my side through some of the most difficult times this authority has ever faced. From my very first official day as chief executive when the floods hit in 2009, through to the challenges we continue to face in achieving unprecedented savings, we have worked as a team.”

Before joining Cumbria council, Mrs Stannard, 55, worked for Hampshire County Council as assistant director of social services.

All council employees aged 55 and over, who have been employed by the authority for more than two years, are eligible to apply for early retirement. Each application is considered on its merits.

Have your say

It has already been agreed that her position is to be back filled and the council will say there is a real saving, however it is clear that in time they will no doubt fill this position also when the story regarding the Chief Executives early retirement has long died down.
I find it quite hypocritical that at the sharp end where services are provided by hard pressed staff that positions at that level are deleted or the time taken to fill them takes months or even years!
Perhaps this newspaper should ask the question, how many managers are employed in the local authority that earn over 50k p.a. a sum that most people can only dream of. Whether the real figures would ever be provided remains to be seen.

There is much that cannot be justified in the public sector and the proliferation of management and the ridiculous salaries that go with these jobs is just one of them.

Posted by dave on 9 May 2013 at 18:54

Barbara Canon told us all it was none of our business.
Well, the people in her division thought otherwise and booted her out of her safe Labour seat last night.

Posted by pete on 3 May 2013 at 17:07

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