Cumbria council chief executive's £411,000 pay-off under fire

Jill Stannard Image copyright Cumbria County Council
Image caption Jill Stannard left her post in May last year

A council chief executive who took early retirement to make way for a management reorganisation received a pay-off totalling £411,000, it has been revealed.

Cumbria County Council boss Jill Stannard left her £170,000-a-year post in May 2013.

The authority said reducing staff numbers "is never cost-free" and it had followed its statutory obligations.

Critics attacked it as "mind-blowing" and "a misuse of taxpayers' money".

Ms Stannard received £26,079 in salary, an £87,500 termination payment, including three-months' payment in lieu of notice, and £297,446 in pension contributions.

'Questions to answer'

John Stevenson, Conservative MP for Carlisle, told BBC Radio Cumbria: "I'm absolutely appalled by the amount involved.

"I think it's a misuse of taxpayers' money. The Labour leadership on the council clearly have some fairly serious questions to answer."

Former Conservative county council leader Eddie Martin said: "These are mind-blowing figures most of us can only dream about."

In recent years, Cumbria County Council's budget has been reduced by £88m and it must save a further £50m by 2016.

Ms Stannard joined the council in 2005 as the corporate director for adult services and had 23 years of experience working in adult social care.

In a statement, the authority said: "These costs are the consequence of the government's decision to cut council funding as part of its efforts to balance the nation's books.

"The council has planned as prudently as possible for the scale of change that it is being asked to make and has followed its statutory obligations throughout this process.

"As a result of the senior officer restructuring that took place last year, the council will achieve a permanent annual saving of £584,000."

Communities Minister Brandon Lewis said: "All local authorities should be focusing resources on protecting frontline services and keeping council tax down rather than throwing away taxpayers' money.

"Councils are now legally required to open up their books to public scrutiny and councillors now have the powers to stop exorbitant pay deals.

"They should use them."

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