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Live blog: Andrea Hill to leave Suffolk County Council, confirmed

Roundup at 17.00pm


Confirmation of the departure of Andrea Hill, chief executive of Suffolk County Council came early this afternoon in a statement the council.

The meeting which confirmed the decision finished around 10am, but then it took about three hours for the statement to be agreed. Mrs Hill will receive her £218,000 salary for a year.

On bullying allegations from a whistleblower, the statement says:

Bullying and harassment allegations were robustly investigated by an independent firm of solicitors. Although it remains a concern that such a perception existed, the Committee is satisfied that there was no evidence to support those claims or that she was responsible for the death of David White (former Head of Legal Services).

And on her hotel expenses the committee concludes;

… whilst there were undoubtedly claims which, in the current climate, might not represent best use of public money, the Committee accepted that there was no dishonesty in the claims made.

In a note to editors at the end of the statement the council says, in effect, that tro have pursued the matter further would have cost taxpayers more money:

Suffolk County Council estimated that the external procedure in this case could cost well in excess of £250,000.

Having taken financial, legal and HR advice the Committee came to the view that an agreement was in the interest of both parties.

Given the constraints of the law, these terms were the best that could be achieved.


By not holding the formal disciplinary inquiry, that would be required by law to discipline a chief executive, the council has saved that quarter-of-a-million pounds. However the council has not said how much the external inquiry by socilitors Wragg & Co into the whistleblower’s allegations of bullying has cost.

The story as it unfolded during the day, including full text of the statement, is below


16.30pm

Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs has made some interesting tweets:

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/RottenBoroughs/status/87898100521373696″]

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/RottenBoroughs/status/87899634248323072″]

16.20pm

Ipswich Spy calling for an inquiry into the applointment of Andrea Hill says: “No matter how much the ruling Tories might want this story to disappear, unless these questions are asked and answered in a public forum the voters will not forgive or forget.”

15.00pm

Terms were “the best that could be achieved”

As so often, the notes at the bottom of a statement are very instructive. In this case they suggest that the Dismissal Appeals Committee were not entirely enthusiastic about the terms that were finally agreed. Here they are:

Notes to Editors:

Mrs Hill’s annual salary is £218,592.

Mrs Hill is subject to a three month contractual notice period.

The Local Authorities (Standing Orders) England Regulations 2001 grant special employment rights to certain officers in local government (the Chief Executive, Monitoring Officer and Chief Financial Officer). Following a preliminary investigation, those rules require the appointment of an independent external assessor and a detailed examination of any allegations or proposed disciplinary action. The county council may only act in line with a recommendation made by an external assessor.

Suffolk County Council estimated that the external procedure in this case could cost well in excess of £250,000.

Having taken financial, legal and HR advice the Committee came to the view that an agreement was in the interest of both parties.

Given the constraints of the law, these terms were the best that could be achieved.

14.30pm

Back from lunch to find the county council statement has been issued. Here it is in full:

The Dismissals and Appeals Committee of Suffolk County Council has today (4 July 2011) concluded its investigation into the ‘whistleblowing’ allegations made against Chief Executive, Andrea Hill.

Bullying and harassment allegations were robustly investigated by an independent firm of solicitors. Although it remains a concern that such a perception existed, the Committee is satisfied that there was no evidence to support those claims or that she was responsible for the death of David White (former Head of Legal Services). The Committee wants to reassure staff that all allegations are treated extremely seriously.

The Committee also received a report into Mrs Hill’s expense claims during her tenure as Chief Executive. It has concluded that whilst there were undoubtedly claims which, in the current climate, might not represent best use of public money, the Committee accepted that there was no dishonesty in the claims made.

Following a lengthy discussion last Friday, and negotiations between representatives of both parties over the weekend, the county council can now confirm that Mrs Hill will be leaving her post with immediate effect.

There has been significant media attention attached to Mrs Hill which has become a distraction and both parties accept that with new political leadership of Suffolk County Council in place, it is better to allow the organisation to move forward with new managerial leadership.

The county council would like to thank Mrs Hill for all she has done over the past three years and wish her well for her future.

The total value of compensation to be paid to Mrs Hill is £218,592. This figure includes her contractual notice period.

13.45pm

Confirmation that Andrea Hill is leaving her post as Chief Executive of Suffolk County Council.

Tweets from James Illman, of the Local Government Chronicle say: “Hill expenses ‘did not rep best use of public money’ but committee accepted there was no dishonesty in the claims made..” and “Suffolk confirm Andrea Hill exit as reported by LGC earlier. Council says there was ‘no evidence’ to substantiate bullying accusations bt..”

And from Patrick Butler of the Guardian, “Suffolk: Council boss Andrea Hill gets £218k pay off. No findings of bullying or expenses abuse. Legal bill for council £250k ”

13.15pm

The Daily Mail reports, the controversial council boss who earned £75,000 a year more than the Prime Minister is believed to have resigned today.


13.05pm

Tweet from Paul Geater, political correspondent of the Archant papers in Ipswich:

[blackbirdpie url=”[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/Geates/status/87853598016413696″]

12.50pm
Interesting tweet from Private Eye

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/RottenBoroughs/status/87848089729253376″]

12.30pm

I have now seen the Local Government Chronicle story, which says:

Sources close to negotiations told LGC a deal had been struck which will see Ms Hill leave the council this month by mutual consent and be handed a pay-off believed to be around a year’s salary.

A council spokesman declined to comment, stating that the meeting was on-going and no official announcement had been drawn up.


The SGC story is behind a pay wall here. Many people working in local government will have access to the subscription service, but I am not sure if Suffolk Libraries subscribe.


12.20pm

Stories about Andrea Hill’s departure are starting to come in thick and fast.

Daily Telegraph quotes Lib Dem leader Kathy Pollard saying:

There will be a feeling of immense relief across the county.

It has been a very unhappy chapter in Suffolk’s history especially for those of us who voted against her appointment in the first place.
She introduced cuts but her position became more and more tenuous as she refused to take as pay cut herself – she was obviously not willing to share the pain with the rest of us.

The poor old Evening Star in Ipswich is still running a story headlined, Still no word on future of chief executive. It says there was still no confirmation about the future of Mrs Hill, despite some reports saying she had left the county.

It is clear that the reports saying she is going have originated in London, from political or civil service sources. Private Eye was the first with a tweet, which was followed quickly by James Illman at the Local Government Chronicle, and Andrew Sinclaire at the BBC. Neither of them are journalists likely to run the story without making their own calls to contacts.


She introduced cuts but her position became more and more tenuous as she refused to take as pay cut herself – she was obviously not willing to share the pain with the rest of us.

The poor old Evening Star in Ipswich, is still headling its story, Still no word on future of chief executive.

Other stories at Public Service,

11.48am

Rotten Boroughs, the Private Eye section on local government, has tweeted:

Re Andrea Hill, the alternative was expensive legal battle — which she claims she wd win. Cllrs persuaded payoff cheaper.

11.25am

Apparently there is still no statement from SCC. The use of the phrase “government source” by the BBC suggests leaks are coming from Whitehall, not Endeavour House, the council’s headquarters.

Ministers at the Communities department have been openly critical of Mrs Hill’s £218,000 salary which put her on a high scale than any Civil Servant other than the Cabinet Secretary.


11.10am

BBC reporting Government source saying Mrs Hill had stood down. The Suffolk CC chief executive is said to accepted a deal to leave.

BBC report links her departure to the inquiry following the death of David White, the acting head of legal services who was found hanged in Butley Woods in early April.

The make no mention of the hotel expenses which was the other strand of the inquiry.
So far there is no news from the Dismissal Appeals Committee which was to have resumed its meeting this morning, presumable to finalise the arrangements for Mrs Hill’s departure.

10.45am
[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/Jamesillman/status/87813690107240448″]

The LGC story is behind a pay wall.

Apparently her departure is by mutual consent and she will receive a year’s pay-off.

If that includes pension contributions, she will reveive well over a quarter of a million pounds.

This item will be updated as information comes in.

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  1. Live blogging: a solution for covering a fast-moving story | Media Wordblog says

    […] the day that saw the departure of Andrea Hill as chief executive of Suffolk County Council, are on Suffolk Wordblog. While the the medium, the web, is different, it felt very much like working on a big running […]

  2. Kevin Algar says

    What a great day!