Suffolk: Andrea Hill aide in shock exit from county council

SUFFOLK: One of Andrea Hill’s most senior aides is today leaving Endeavour House – just 24 hours after his departure was announced.

Director of resource management, Graham Dixon, is leaving the authority immediately after four-and-a-half years in the job.

The news shocked councillors – and came as Suffolk Conservative MPs were having a private meeting with council leader Jeremy Pembroke.

Mrs Hill will be taking on his role as well as that of chief executive – although the council emphasised she would not be earning any extra on top of her �218,000 salary.

Mr Dixon is a former Air Commodore who joined the county council in 2006 after a distinguished career in the RAF. He is a former Tornado pilot and had a key strategic role in the first Gulf War.

The council’s monitoring officer, Eric Whitfield, is also leaving the authority today.

Their sudden departures shocked staff – although it is understood that Mr Whitfield had recently been unwell.

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Mrs Hill’s e-mail about Mr Dixon said: “I am writing to let you know that Graham Dixon will be leaving the council at the end of March to pursue other interests.

“Within his role as director of resource management, Graham has led the full range of central support functions, covering 13 different areas.

“Over the past four years, he has provided valuable support for his portfolio holder and has played the key leadership role with our partner CSD, strengthening our client side in order to get the most from the relationship.

“I wish Graham every success for the future.”

Her e-mail about Mr Whitfield praised his work as head of scrutiny and monitoring for the last nine years. She said he had been at the centre of supporting the political entity of the organisation.

She added: “On behalf of the organisation, I wish him well for the future.”

It later emerged that Mrs Hill would be taking on the role of director of resource management herself, but would not be taking any pay rise.

Head of human resources at the council, Sally Marlow, said: “The chief executive will assume responsibility for leadership of the resource management directorate until more permanent arrangements can be put in place.

“Therefore there will be no external recruitment costs.

“We can confirm that the chief executive will not receive any additional remuneration for undertaking this role.”

A spokesman for the county council said he could not say anything about whether the two departing officers would sign compromise agreements – which often contain “gagging” secrecy clauses – because they were personal matters involving those individuals.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said he welcomed the fact that the council was cutting expensive jobs at the headquarters.

He said: “We want to see cuts to the bureaucracy at Endeavour House.”

The MPs’ meeting had discussed private matters with the political leadership of the council, but Mr Gummer said it had been “very positive.”

However, the loss of Mr Dixon did not go down well with opposition politicians.

Labour group leader Sandy Martin said: “I think Graham Dixon was an extremely competent council officer.

“And I believe that in Graham Dixon the county council had an officer who had the authority and understanding to help to prevent some of the worst programmes that this council might attempt and my fears for the future are very much increased by this news.”

His Labour colleague Bryony Rudkin, a former council leader, was sorry to hear of the departure of Mr Whitfield.

She said: “He took on a new role and has developed it to really serve the democracy of the council and his departure is a real loss. I am very sorry to hear about this.”

Opposition leader Kathy Pollard said Mr Dixon did a very tough job well – and was concerned that the chief executive would be taking on too much by including that role.

She said: “I am not sure that it is right for the chief executive to also be expected to do the role of director of resource management.”

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