Suffolk: County council pair’s exits cost taxpayers �130k

SUFFOLK: Two senior council officers who left Endeavour House on the last day of the financial year were paid a total of more than �130,000.

And the auditor who examined the county’s accounts for the last year expressed concern that the council’s own rules were not followed to the letter when they were paid.

Director of resource management Graham Dixon was paid �63,866 – half his annual salary of �126,733.

Monitoring officer Eric Whitfield was paid �66,710 – three quarters of his annual salary of �88,944.

Both left the county council suddenly on March 31, only 24 hours before the retirement of Jeremy Pembroke as leader.

The county has never revealed the cost of their departures before but the figures are included in the annual accounts for 2010/11.

Neil Harris, from the Audit Commission, said: “I found significant failings in the paperwork and evidence to demonstrate that the council considered all relevant factors, internal and external advice and adhered to its own standing orders, financial regulations and terms and conditions of employment before reaching its decision.”

Most Read

He said the council had been more comprehensive in following rules when former chief executive Andrea Hill left the authority in July of this year.

Mr Harris added: “I have asked the council’s statutory financial officer and monitoring officer to address my observations and ensure that this applies to any future terminations of employment as part of compromise agreements.”

Council leader Mark Bee said the authority had taken steps to ensure its rules would be followed carefully.

“What’s clear from the external auditor’s report is that proper processes are in place for dealing with the end of a member of staff’s employment. However these were not followed in March this year.

“The county council has reviewed the comments made by the auditor and will ensure his recommendations are implemented in full when they are received.”

The chairman of the council’s audit committee, John Klashka, said: “We are seeking assurances from the administration that the auditor’s recommendations will be implemented, in full, and that the council’s procedures will from now on be followed to the letter.”

The figures for the departures of Mr Dixon and Mr Whitfield were included in the 13 compromise agreements that were signed between January 13 and April 5 this year at a cost of �405,665.90.

n Did the council pay too much to its former officers? E-mail eveningstarletters@evening