Cheshire East Council executive paid £1,025 per day

By Phil McCann
Cheshire Political Reporter, BBC News

Image source, Empics
Image caption, Chief executive Mike Suarez has been suspended "as a neutral act" by the council

Cheshire East Council is paying a temporary senior official £1,025 per day, the BBC has learned.

Three of the local authority's senior managers are not presently in their original posts.

Chief executive Mike Suarez remains suspended while legal chief Bill Norman is "not in work" and financial boss Peter Bates's responsibilities have been reduced.

"We will continue to deliver high-quality services," the council said.

An internal email, seen by the BBC, said the authority's decision to transfer the roles had been taken using "emergency powers".

The £1,025 daily rate will initially be paid to a manager brought in to replace Mr Bates as Section 151 officer. This is the post responsible for the council's financial affairs and reporting unlawful activity under Section 151 of the Local Government Act.

The council intends to reduce the pay for this role to a £10,626 monthly salary.

'Special protection'

Mr Suarez was suspended on full pay earlier this month as a "neutral act" after a disciplinary committee meeting examined "concerns over officer conduct".

The council's cross-party disciplinary and investigation committee can only authorise investigations into the chief executive, monitoring officer and Section 151 officer.

The three roles are designated by law and the post-holders enjoy special protection from disciplinary action and dismissal.

The authority will not reveal details of the allegations or which of the three officials they relate to.

An interim chief executive has been appointed from within the council to replace Mr Suarez, costing an additional £1,291 per month.

The work of monitoring officer Mr Norman is being covered by his deputy, at an additional cost of £2,621 per month.

No details relating to his absence have been released, other than he is "not in work".

A new Section 151 officer has been recruited to take on the role from Mr Bates, who will instead "focus on other responsibilities" at the council.

The salaries of all three executives remain unchanged.

All three have been contacted by the BBC but have not commented.

Roles replaced

Chief executive Mike Suarez: Most senior council official, with overall responsibility for council services and making proposals to councillors.

Monitoring officer Bill Norman: Most senior legal officer, responsible for "ensuring the lawfulness and fairness" of decision making.

Section 151 officer Peter Bates: Responsible for the council's financial affairs and reporting unlawful activity under Section 151 of the Local Government Act.

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