Yet this does not excuse – or justify – the local authority’s obfuscation over, first, the fallout from the city’s tree-felling scandal and now the costs of an interim CEO before Ms Josephs took up her role.
After a protracted dispute that made a mockery of Freedom of Information laws, it can now be disclosed that the Labour-run council spent £208,137 on Charlie Adan’s nine-month stand-in stint between January and October last year – the equivalent of an astonishing rate of £1,250 a day.
Not all of this money will have been pocketed by Ms Adan after former CEO John Mothersole stepped down – the council hired recruitment agency Odgers Interim to find a suitable candidate.
But the fact that the council believed that the agency’s desire for commercial confidentiality should take precedent over full disclosure – even councillors were kept in the dark about the pay arrangements – reflects badly on the endemic culture of secrecy that prevailed under Mr Mothersole and Julie Dore, the then council leader.
And that the Information Rights Tribunal has, thankfully, come down on the side of the public interest illustrates the folly of those officials who sought to thwart publication of the costs incurred when Ms Adan was in charge – and the enduring importance of the Freedom of Information Act in exposing those matters that misguided councils, like Sheffield, still want to keep secret.
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