No pay off for Lancashire County Council chief executive

Phil Halsall Phil Halsall said he has enjoyed his time in Lancashire

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The suspended chief executive of Lancashire County Council who left the authority by "mutual consent" will not get a pay off.

Phil Halsall was suspended on full pay in August pending the outcome of a disciplinary investigation into the tendering process of a £5m contract.

Lancashire County Council (LCC) said he would get statutory pay and the investigation into his role in the fleet contract tendering will cease.

It said the wider probe would continue.

Mr Halsall, who took up the role of chief executive in 2011, was on an annual salary of about £195,000 and will receive the statutory three months salary.

He said the decision to leave the authority had "not been an easy one" and he had "enjoyed" his time in Lancashire.

Phil Halsall was a well-respected chief executive with major successes to his credit including enterprise zones and the Preston city deal. But when Labour took over the county council, questions began to emerge, not least over the aborted transport contract.

He has always defended his integrity and denied doing anything wrong. The new council administration clearly felt otherwise. A barrister, appointed by the government, was officially investigating what, if anything, had happened.

He will never be able to reach a conclusion because both Mr Halsall and the council decided to move on.

Council sources say it was Mr Halsall who suggested the deal, and that his pay off was not more than he was legally entitled to. But crucially I am told this is not the end of the matter.

While disciplinary procedures against the former chief executive have been dropped, other investigations at the council continue. We do not know precisely what they are looking at.

The deal to create One Connect Limited with BT is a very likely contender. But council sources are clear that further revelations are to be expected.

The Labour-led council's leader Jennifer Mein said she wished him "the best of luck for the future".

The probe follows an independent review of the tendering process.

The deal to run the council's fleet services was agreed in April by the former Conservative administration which was led by Geoff Driver.

It was awarded to BT but the decision was called in by county councillors and put on hold. The council's in-house provider continued to provide the services.

The contract was revoked on 15 August with immediate effect by Ms Mein.

Mr Halsall denied any wrong-doing and previously said he was "vigorously" pursuing his reinstatement.

LCC is also investigating the authorisation of the payment of more than £500,000 to a senior officer who resigned in August.

David McElhinney received two separate payments that the council leader and treasurer said they were unaware of.

Mr McElhinney ran One Connect Ltd, which was contracted to run various council services.

LCC said Jo Turton will continue as the interim chief executive and a decision on will take over the role permanently will be made in due course.

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