Cumbria County Council criticised for pay-off 'secrecy'

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Cumbria County Council logoImage source, Cumbria County Council
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The council needs to save £49m over the next two years, having saved £250m since 2010

Cumbria County Council has been criticised for "unnecessary secrecy" after it declined to reveal the pay-offs given to two top directors.

Dominic Donnini, executive director for economy and infrastructure, departed his £125,000-a-year post in October.

Brenda Smith, corporate director for adults, had earlier left as part of a wide-ranging management restructure.

The council has rejected a Freedom of Information (FOI) request on what the pair were paid upon leaving.

The authority, which has no overall control and is run by a Labour and Liberal Democrat alliance, said it "cannot" publish the information as it concerns "personal data", according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

However, it is legally obliged to reveal what top officers are paid in its annual report, which is due in May.

Why not now?

Councillor James Airey, leader of the opposition Conservative group, criticised the "unnecessary secrecy".

He said: "This information has to be made public at some point so why not now?

"At the end of the day, they are on the public payroll and are paid by the taxpayers and the taxpayer should be told.

"When large amounts of taxpayers' money are involved, it doesn't seem to want the public to find out until the last minute."

In 2104 a major row broke out when it emerged that the authority's former chief executive, Jill Stannard, had walked away with a £411,000 payout.

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