Two senior staff given £300,000 on leaving council last year

Croydon Council spent nearly £300,000 on “exit” and redundancy payments to just two senior staff in the last financial year, official accounts published yesterday reveal.

Croydon Council coat of armsThis follows the “golden goodbyes” to top executives in 2011, when £350,000 of Council Tax-payers’ cash was pocketed by four departing staff. Calls are sure to be heard once more for Croydon Council’s slogan of “Proud to Serve” to be altered to “Proud to Self-Serve”.

What the accounts do not reveal for 2012-2013 is who are the lucky recipients of the amounts – in one case, a pay-off of £213,064 for a single executive, in the other someone was paid £84,842 when made redundant compulsorily.  You can view the accounts by clicking here; the redundancy deals are detailed on page 66 of the document.

It might be assumed that the juicier of the two huge pay-offs went to Croydon’s controversial chief executive, Jon Rouse, who quit for a less-well-paid job in the NHS earlier this year.

The accounts state that this massive pay-off went to someone who was earning more than £200,000 per year.

But Rouse told Inside Croydon this morning that he had not received any pay-off. “I resigned to take up new position,” Rouse said.

This makes the £213,000 exit payment, listed under “other redundancies”, all the more mysterious. Some inside the council have suggested that it may have gone to Pam Parkes, the former head of human resources whose somewhat rushed departure in the last week of the financial year was first revealed by Inside Croydon.

But as the accounts show, Parkes was on an annual salary, including allowances, of £1o5,000, plus £24,000 in pension contributions. Parkes had been at Croydon Council since July 2004. Yet even for someone with nearly 10 years’ service, the pay-off amount seems to exceed by far any of the council’s own redundancy payment caps, under which the maximum pay-out is limited to the equivalent of 30 weeks’ salary.

An extract from Croydon Council's own annual accounts which show the £213,064 pay-off to a departing senior executive

An extract from Croydon Council’s own annual accounts which show the £213,064 pay-off to a departing senior executive and £84,842 compulsory redundancy settlement

Rumours about the reasons behind Parkes’s hurried exit last March continue to circulate the emptying offices of Taberner House, though none have been confirmed. Might someone so steeped in employment law and who had overseen so many hundreds of staff redundancies in the previous decade while part of Rouse’s “top team” have managed to negotiate a very special deal for herself?

The £85,000 pay-off also seems to be higher than the council’s own redundancy payment rules might allow for someone who, the accounts say, had been employed on a salary of between £80,000 and £100,000. While this is a closer fit to Parkes’ salary bracket, it is hard to see how the position of head of human resources can have been made compulsorily redundant, especially since her role has been filled since April by Heather Daley.

Redundancy payments ought to be an area of the utmost concern and care for senior council executives, ever since the CEO of one council in south Wales was arrested by police earlier this summer on allegations of fraud, involving some senior staff being hired at inflated salary levels and swiftly being made redundant and in receipt of generous, public-funded pay-offs.

Messrs Sue, Grabbit and Runne, Inside Croydon Towers’ resident solicitors, advise us at this point to insert a phrase that suggests that there is no evidence that any such practices have gone on at Taberner House. That’s largely because Croydon Council has instead been able to spend residents’ money like drunken sailors by hiring expensive consultants – in some cases former employees who have taken redundancy and then been re-hired on lucrative freelance contracts.

The accounts document includes the amounts being spent on Paul Spooner, the new “interim” head of planning at the borough, who appears to be “contracted”, rather than employed staff, on a deal under which he is paid nearly £1,000 per day – which works out at more than £240,000 per year, as was first revealed by Inside Croydon.

In total, Croydon Council made 119 people redundant between April 2012 and March 2013; 79 of them were compulsory redundancies. The bill in compensation to these axed staff came to £1.9 million.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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