The county’s £218,000 chief executive Andrea Hill has undergone 23 coaching sessions with a “change” guru – at a cost of more than £12,000 to the taxpayer, The Evening Star can reveal today.

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Sol Davidson’s skills

Leading complex organisations, changing the way leaders think about leading.

Understanding and working with the hidden side of organisations.

Leading on “the edge of chaos” and awareness of self on the edge.

Conversations that make a difference.

Top team coaching.

Converting breakdowns into breakthroughs.

Dialogue and learning together to build a strategic and operational capability.

Listening.

Presentation and presence.

Place management.

The sessions, which have taken place since 2008, were with professional coach Sol Davidson who works with senior officers in the public and private sector.

A Freedom of Information request sent to the county council reveals that each of these sessions cost £525 plus VAT. That makes a total cost to council taxpayers of £12,075.

The Star has learnt that council leader Jeremy Pembroke has also met with Mr Davidson for “leadership development”, with each session lasting at least an hour.

It is not known how long the sessions with Andrea Hill lasted.

Andrea Hill

Andrea Hill was appointed chief executive of Suffolk County Council in May 2008.

She is on a yearly salary of £218,000. This compares to the Prime Minister’s wage of £142,500.

Despite being the top boss of Suffolk, she lives in Cambridgeshire.

She has competed in several marathons.

Today, a council spokesman defended the expenditure, claiming the sessions were in line with “training normally provided to senior officers”.

On a web page dedicated to Mr Davidson he is described as a professional coach with 17 years’ experience working with senior managers and their teams in both the public and private sectors, in the UK and Europe.

It describes his personal philosophy as: “I take the view that traditional thinking about the nature of power, authority, structure and control is proving to be less than optimal in the face of the challenges confronting today’s leaders.

“My work is about helping those brave enough to step into leadership positions to reinterpret many of their experiences and in so doing liberate themselves and their organisations into much higher levels of performance and capability.”

He also lists as one of his skills, ‘leading on “the edge of chaos” and awareness of self on this edge’.

Opposition Liberal Democrat leader Kathy Pollard was not impressed to hear about the coaching.

She said: “I do wonder why someone on such a high salary needs coaching in this way.

“At a time when all council spending is being squeezed money should go to front line services and not to this kind of coaching.”

North Ipswich and Central Suffolk MP Dr Dan Poulter added: “At this time when Suffolk is facing major challenges issues like this do not help. The county should be looking at spending money on its front line services.”

This is not the first time that training has been an issue at the county council – in October 2008 it was revealed that the county had spent £400,000 on training courses for staff using programmes devised by TV hypnotist Paul McKenna.

Sally Marlow, Suffolk County Council’s head of human resources, said: “As the chief executive of Suffolk County Council, Andrea Hill is responsible for a programme of significant and complex change in the way public services are provided, and delivering £125m of savings over the next four years.

“In exactly the same way as all members of staff at this, and any other, organisation do, the chief executive receives personal development to support her in her role.

“Developing staff is an important aspect of running an organisation. The amount spent on this personal development has been over a three year period and is in line with training normally provided to senior officers.”

31 comments

  • Totally unacceptable use of 'our' money. Time to loose this council and get another that spends 'our' money in ways that we want it spent. Bring back democracy and vote this lot out. We are being forced into cuts we dont want and yet our leaders are getting paid large amounts for doing things we dont want them to do. Where is the sense in that?

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    Concerned Local

    Saturday, March 5, 2011

  • Disgraceful! On her excessive salary she should be the one with all the necessary skill to manage 'change' without it costing the taxpayer another penny. Let's hope the voters of Suffolk won't also need a training session on how to change the present administration at County HQ come the next local election!

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    Driven Roundabend

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • Total contempt for suffolk council taxpayers, spending our money without any care or consideration , 80 senior manager earn over £55,000 per annum with 9 over £100k pa, plus their pension pot, we are not all in this together , this is a total disgrace.

    Report this comment

    this is what we pay tax for

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • Unacceptable. I understand the need for training but at this time of great financial difficulty, keeping services and people in jobs is more important. How much has been spent in total I wonder on "training normally provided to senior officers"

    Report this comment

    Claire Barrett

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • It just goes on and on, time after time we hear stories of waste and poor management! We are i am afraid stuck with this lady, the councellers who appointed Andria shoul be voted out of office. In many ways they they are worse than the lady herself, she is paid to do a job, they are ment to represent our interests NO chance of that!!

    Report this comment

    Chris Finbow

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • This is just a disgusting waste of our tax payers money! How can this be justified. If the job cannot be done without this high fee, then somebody else can do it.

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    teresa suffolk

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • Disgraceful! How can they justify this? I hardly know what to say. This beggars belief. All the cuts they are making right now and we've been paying for her to have a little chat with this coach. I'm definitely in the wrong job!!! Where can I sign up to be a coach and charge over £500 a session!!!

    Report this comment

    N M

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • Outragious disgrace. This is not why I pay £180 of my hard earned money every month. This is sick and something should be done.

    Report this comment

    Lord Lucan

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • I dont care how many marathons she has run. It is disgusting the money she gets and the training she is being given. Why does she need training is she not qualified for the job. Appalling. What about all the special care places that are closing. It makes my blood boil.

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    biggles the pilot

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • Maybe the County Council should have employed Sol Davidson as Chief Executive instead of Ms.Hill if she hasn't got the skills to actually do her job in the first place. If she feels she needs to improve, then she should finance her "coaching sessions" herself. Mr. Pembroke told us he had to pay this silly salary to get the best person, I think most of the people in Suffolk think otherwise. It will soon be election time, and the public can let the powers that be at Endeavour House know what they think via the ballot box.

    Report this comment

    england1770

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • It beggars belief that 15% of people in the survey think this training course is "money well spent". How much more is this very unpopular woman going to push the tolerance of Suffolk people!

    Report this comment

    Ken Kernow

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • Give me strength. This just shows that we could have a much cheaper person in this position and then train them up to be able to do the job. Which by the way should include listening to and some respect for the people who pay her wages. SHE MUST GO

    Report this comment

    A Smith

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • A true leader would have challenged the guru's fees.

    Report this comment

    Joseph Trotter

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • SCC is just full of shame, imagine having to work for this joke ...and not a very good Suffolk Joke

    Report this comment

    Richard

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • An abolsute disgrace. She has already upset most of Suffolk by refusing to reduce her excessive wages and now she claims for something which if she was really good enough to warrant her high salary she wouldn't need! She should think about teh lollipop peolpe who this £12000 could have saved (perhaps 2 or 3?)

    Report this comment

    Paul Daley

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • It's time Ms Hill went, she is now just insulting all taxpayers beyond belief.

    Report this comment

    GetaGrip

    Saturday, March 5, 2011

  • I wonder if under the 'conversations that make a difference' it included learning to say thankyou - that would be a good start

    Report this comment

    mrsh

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • Lets dispense with the coaches and have our buses back!

    Report this comment

    John Cook

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • This amount would cover the wages of every school crossing patrol person in Ipswich for a term! And they voted to cut school crossing patrols. She and her Tory bosses are a disgrace!

    Report this comment

    John Cook

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • Typical "over the top" training for a few elite members of staff - when front line staff training is being squeezed. Not surprising though when SCC purchasing policy is similar to the much publicised MOD model, e.g. managers have to buy printer cartridges from "authorised suppliers", when the same product is available elsewhere much cheaper!

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    Peter wink

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • I may be somewhat ignorant in the employment procedures at Suffolk County Council, but please could someone tell me why Ms. Hill's salary and indeed her position it's self can not be reviewed, amended or abolished? I know that more junior local government staff can have their posts andor terms & conditions changed and have to reapply for their own jobs, so why does this not apply to the Chief Executive post?

    Report this comment

    england1770

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • On her salary, surely she can afford to pay for them herself? If I wanted to take a course to improve my employment prospects, I would have to pay for them.

    Report this comment

    "Victor Meldrew"

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • 'Did those councillors realise they were taking on someone who would require expensive training? The full spec is a A Riverside View blog. Jeremy Pembroke, now council leader, was one of those who voted for Ms Hill (Labour and Lib Dems voted solidly against) and he has also been getting training from Mr Davidson'. http:www.wordblog.co.uktagsol-davidson

    Report this comment

    chas winfield

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • Its easy to hit out at something you do not understand so perhaps Ms. Hill should simply explain the context and rationale for the use of a coach. If people understand the benefit they are morel likely to accept it.

    Report this comment

    SteveZigZig

    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

  • Is there no end to this profligacy?What are officers of the county appointed to do and what skills are they expected to demonstrate at interview or lack of that now requires training. I was appointd by Ipswich Borough in 1975 for the expertise and skills that I had and would bring to the post that I was appointed to do.I attende NO management courses during my eleven years in post other than one forced course that was absolute rubbish!!If Mr Davidson has the skills to pass on to officers on £218K+ and elected members on £30K+ perhaps he should have been appointed chief executive and leader! I hope that he has advised the leader that he should be taking the lead, especially in the media,rather than 'appearing' with some of his colleagues, in my view (if you understand what I mean) as a 'will o the whisp' when the flack is flying.

    Report this comment

    randall bevan

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • In one breath we are having to make savings and while they take in one hand they then spend stupid amounts of money in another. This Council needs a big kick up the backside. Surely they should have thought about spending the dosh and the effect it will have on other services. Time for someone else to be given the purse strings and Andrea Hill sacked immediately.

    Report this comment

    Nick Ward

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • I am very surprised that someone who is earning that salary should need any fiurther training at all! Those who selected this person are the ones that should undergo serious instruction before they mess up on further appointments.

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    Chris B

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • There's no real point in commenting as this will continue until sanity prevails, her wage bracket has gone, along with her and her like. She cant be blamed for accepting an obscenely high salary along with the perks - we are the fools that allow councils to pay it.

    Report this comment

    Sarky Sage

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • We are sick to death of this utter disregard for the way our hard earned cash is being wasted.It will end up with us all standing together and saying no more ripping us off

    Report this comment

    Jim

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • Andrea Hill, just employed quoted from the Evening Star May 2nd 2008 - "I have a job to do in the next couple of years making sure the organisation is well led through any change. “One of the reasons, I'm sure, the members appointed me was because I have a track record of success in managing change. So how come she needs help if she was qualified back then? And if she wasn't qualified how come she got the big salary. The whole thing is getting murkier by the day!

    Report this comment

    Citizen

    Friday, March 4, 2011

  • This is all so depressing. I only hope the voters in Suffolk will get off their backsides to make their views known in May

    Report this comment

    Tolly

    Friday, March 4, 2011

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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