An official at one of Yorkshire’s smallest councils was handed nearly £360,000 last year as compensation for losing his job, newly released figures reveal.
Dave Goodwin, the former director of “customer and leisure services” at Northallerton-based Hambleton Council emerged as the highest paid town hall official in the region, in a list from the Taxpayers’ Alliance which also reveals that 121 council staff in Yorkshire were paid more than £100,000 for the year.
It is the second year in succession that Hambleton has paid a six-figure sum as compensation for loss of office. Last year’s figures revealed that its former chief executive, Phil Morton, received a similar amount.
The council said at the time of Mr Morton’s early retirement in 2016 that his departure would help it reach a £1m savings target.
But the payment to Mr Goodwin, who is in his 50s and had worked for the council for 23 years, brings the redundancy bill to more than three-quarters of that amount, for the two cases alone.
Last night, the council said Mr Goodwin’s £90,000-a-year post had been replaced by a new role, “director of leisure and environment”, which paid £60,000.
James Price, campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said the exit packages were “beyond the wildest dreams of ordinary taxpayers”.
But he added: “They are still all too common on the local government gravy train.
“The government has made a lot of noise about ending these telephone number pay-offs, but taxpayers are still being bled dry.
“When a small council like Hambleton hands its director of leisure services more than £350,000 as a payoff, very serious questions need to be answered.”
Coun Mark Robson, leader of the Conservative-run council, admitted that the payments “looked large” but said they included pension contributions and represented a saving to the council in the long term.
“The changes we have made in restructuring the council in the last few years means we are in a position to save money, and that is happening,” Coun Robson said.
Five years ago, Hambleton was forced to pay £266,000 to cover the pension of its then chief executive, Peter Simpson, who left amid complaints about his management style.
Coun Robson, who said the same pension arrangements remained in place for current staff, added: “When people are on that sort of salary, you expect these payments to be made if someone is made redundant. By restructuring and deleting posts, there is a price to pay.”
Two years ago, the Government announced that “golden goodbye” packages in the public sector would be capped, to be “fair to taxpayers”. But the new rules have yet to be implemented.
The Taxpayers’ Alliance figures reveal that Hull was the Yorkshire council with the highest number of employees earning more than £100,000 a year. Some 16 people on the council payroll were listed as having six-figure salaries, with three on more than £150,000. Leeds, which headed the list last year, now has 15 six-figure earners, three fewer than before. Sheffield has 10 and Kirklees nine.
The Local Government Association, which represents councils, said senior pay was “always decided by democratically elected councillors in an open and transparent way”.
A spokesman added: “Councils are large, complex organisations with sizable budgets. It is important that people with the right skills and experience are retained to deliver this important work.”