Redcar and Cleveland Council to axe £150k chief exec job

Amanda Skelton Image copyright Redcar and Cleveland Council
Image caption Redcar and Cleveland Council chief executive Amanda Skelton will step down later this year

A council is to scrap its £150,000 chief executive role as part of cost-cutting measures.

The decision by Redcar and Cleveland Council came after Amanda Skelton said she was "willing to accept voluntary redundancy" after 11 years in the job.

The council said it would have to pay Mrs Skelton about £337,000 to cover redundancy payments and local authority pension contributions.

Labour opposition councillors called it a "reckless" decision.

But the authority, an Independent and Liberal Democrat coalition, claimed future annual savings would be £220,000 a year.

Mrs Skelton, who will step down in October, was made a CBE in the New Year's Honours List in 2018 for services to Redcar and Tees Valley.

The council said her duties would be shared out amongst other managers.

Image copyright Redcar and Cleveland Council
Image caption Mrs Skelton welcomed Prince Charles to Kirkleatham in 2013

A report said that being over the age of 55, redundancy would trigger early retirement for Mrs Skelton.

Under the council's Early Retirement and Redundancy Policy, she is entitled to a redundancy payment of £105,328.56 - equivalent to 35.63 weeks' pay.

There would also be a legal requirement for the Local Government Pension Scheme to release her pension entitlement.

This will result in the council being required to make a payment of £231,740 to the Teesside Pension Fund due to the pension being released prior to the chief executive's normal retirement date.

Mrs Skelton will also be entitled to a notice period of 12 weeks.

A council spokesman said: "The future savings to be generated from removal of the chief executive's role would be circa £220,000 per year, including salary, pension contributions and other associated on-costs.

"Given the financial position facing this council and local authorities generally, this is a management model that should be pursued."

Councillors have recommended that corporate director for resources, John Sampson, take on the bulk of Mrs Skelton's responsibilities.

Image copyright Redcar and Cleveland Council
Image caption The payoff came under fire from Labour councillor Sue Jeffrey

The Labour group leader, councillor Carl Quartermain, said the decision to scrap the chief executive role was a "rushed, un-thought through" move "that appears as a large cash saving to appeal to the public".

Mr Quartermain and his Labour colleague Sue Jeffrey, the former council leader, said the payoff could have been reduced had the authority awaited the outcome of payments cap legislation going through parliament.

Councillor Jeffrey described the agreement as "very probably the most ill-thought through proposal that I have ever seen presented to a full council meeting".

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