5:00pm Wednesday 27th November 2013
THE chief executive of Worcestershire County Council is retiring early and being handed a ‘golden goodbye’ of £95,000, it has emerged.
Trish Haines is stepping down next May at the age of 58. The county council’s pension fund scheme is being topped up with the cash sum.
The deal, which has been lambasted as “obscene” by the opposition Labour group, comes after talks with leader Councillor Adrian Hardman over a mutual parting of ways.
Both parties insist she was planning to retire at 60 anyway, with the £95,000 aimed at making up the pension losses for going early.
The Journal can also reveal how the Conservative leadership has rejected pleas to share a new chief executive with another council – but wants the new boss to take a £25,000 pay cut.
The new salary on offer will start at £151,000, compared with Mrs Haines’ £176,678 basic salary.
The £95,000 top-up comes as it plans to cut £98 million from spending by 2017 and slash at least 600 jobs.
Councillor Peter McDonald, Labour group leader, said: “The council cannot justify such payments in times of austerity and cutbacks, this is just not acceptable.
If the chief executive wants to retire it should be at her own cost, not the council’s. It’s obscene.
“The Tories are guilty of double standards.
“On the one hand, they are employing over 700 people on zero hours contracts, sacking hundreds of employees to save money and cutting back services.”
A confidential meeting of an in-house panel, called the appointments committee, took place last week to discuss Mrs Haines’ departure.
The Tory leadership was concerned that if Mrs Haines retired at 60 in September 2015 it would be right in the middle of a series of savage cuts to spending and could “destabilise” the plans. It is also intent on making a saving with the new appointment, but at the meeting resisted calls to share a boss with another council.
Councillor Simon Geraghty, deputy leader, said: “Trish has been an excellent chief executive and I want to scotch any claims there’s been a fall-out.
“It was a mutual decision and the rationale behind it is that we are going into a fouryear period, possibly longer, of serious change which we need someone to oversee.
“The £95,000 has to be balanced against the need to find a chief executive to provide leadership over that medium period, and of course the savings we’ll be making from it.”
Kenny Brown, head of human resources, said it was an “accounting transaction”
to compensate for the cost of early retirement. that the council had an obligation to pay.
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