Brighton and Hove council chief executive leaves with £270k pay-off

Posted On 18 Jun 2015 at 12:04 pm

The chief executive of Brighton and Hove City Council, Penny Thompson, is leaving her job.

The terms of her departure were being discussed at a special meeting of the council’s Policy and Resources Committee this morning (Thursday 18 June).

The meeting took place behind closed doors at the Friends Meeting House in Brighton.

Ms Thompson joined the council in November 2012, succeeding John Barradell.

She earned £160,000 in the past financial year plus a £30,000 pension contribution.

Penny Thompson

Penny Thompson

The cost of her departure will total £270,000. The sum includes pay to cover her notice period, pension and compensation but excluded the costs of finding a new chief executive. She will take early retirement.

The council issued a statement after the meeting. It said: “Brighton and Hove City Council has announced that chief executive Penny Thompson will be stepping down on 30 June 2015.

“This follows agreement at the Policy and Resources committee today after discussions between the chief executive and the council.

“Interim arrangements, pending the recruitment of a new chief executive will be agreed at full council on Thursday 16 July.

“Until then cover arrangements have been agreed between Penny and the executive leadership team.”

Warren Morgan, leader of the council said: “I’d like to thank Penny on behalf of the council for her significant contribution to Brighton and Hove over the past three years and for steering the authority through a difficult period.

“We will move swiftly to ensure a new chief executive is appointed who can help the council and the city change in the challenging financial times ahead so that our resources and those of our partner organisations can be targeted to best effect.”

Councillor Warren Morgan

Councillor Warren Morgan

Penny Thompson wrote about her departure in a final chief executive’s blog. She said: “I am stepping down from the role of CEO of Brighton and Hove City Council.

“It has not been an easy decision. I don’t think my work is finished; but I do think it’s for the best.

“We have a new Labour administration in the council. The council wants to appoint a new CEO.

“I leave a strong, competent, highly motivated executive leadership team and I hope that they can continue to deliver on the council’s ambitious and tough agenda.

“I am pleased that the administration recognises my huge contribution to the council and city over the past two and a half years.

“I am certainly proud of our corporate plan and budget delivery and a number of key achievements besides.

“Firstly, I leave an organisation with a culture underpinned by sound values and focused on high performance in the interests of all citizens and the city.

“It is a far happier, more open, empowered organisation than the one I joined in November 2012. Our recent silver award of Investors in People is testimony to that.

“I hope the council keeps going with the culture change and performance with consequence agenda that we have embarked upon. It is essential underpinning for a modernising, co-operative council facing huge financial challenges.

“Secondly, I leave an organisation which wants the same thing as its partners, private, public and voluntary.

“This is a shared commitment to a vibrant economy benefiting everyone (housing and jobs being key ambitions); a good life (irrespective of age); a well- run city (safe, clean and moving) and a modern council – all combining to keep Brighton and Hove as a fantastic city to live, work and visit.

“And there is evidence of progress. On top of our Greater Brighton City Deal in 2014, we won the Local Government Chronicle Growth Award for 2015; being among the top performing Key City regions with a developing digital economy, a vibrant and renowned cultural offer, and falling numbers of unemployed.

“We have a number of exciting developments in the pipeline, among them the i360, King Alfred and Waterfront developments.

“Of course there remain challenges: the reducing budget; rising needs; and insufficient housing supply are just some of them.

“However, over the next few years, the council will be associated with keeping the city changing and developing.

“Thirdly, I am proud that we are prioritising fairness for our most vulnerable citizens.

“Equality is the theme of our energetic and creative director of public health’s annual report this year.

“Under the leadership of our executive director of children’s services we are properly attending to the experience of children at risk, children in care, children in education and those with a disability.

“The forthcoming Ofsted report will provide evidence of a journey well under way … not finished.

“Our health and wellbeing partnership between the council and health is tackling the challenges of an ageing population and high numbers of citizens with significant mental health needs or managing the ravages of drugs and alcohol.

“I am pleased that we have developed a profound understanding of the seamlessness required between health and social care and between prevention, primary, secondary and tertiary services.

“My role has been one of championing system leadership between the council and the health service and I do hope that this agenda continues to be prioritised and to flourish.

“Fourthly, I personally led negotiations to resolve a long-standing equal pay issue for the council. Painful though those negotiations were, the resolution of this significant issue has enabled the council to undertake a forward-looking agenda of redesign and renewal of our refuse recycling and parks services.

“These services in neighbourhoods are so visible and valued by citizens.

“Finally, I have sought to ensure that the council pursues equality for all including those quieter voices.

“As equalities champion I have modelled our values and pursued an approach which supports all protected groups to be heard and the development of the ‘One Voice’ group stands as testimony to that.

“I came into the role of chief executive clear that I would only take up the post if I were the first choice of all three leaders on the council.

“I have greatly relished the opportunity to work for those leaders and indeed for all 54 councillors.

“I am a longstanding and committed public servant who completes 40 years of public service this summer.

“I will miss all the people I have worked with in the council, the city and beyond and I trust that they will continue to do a great job for this fantastic city.

“I want to pay special tribute to my fellow senior managers in the City Management Board and to my own Executive Leadership team, whose support and challenge I have always valued.

“Let me end, sure in the certain knowledge that I leave behind an organisation in better shape than the one I joined.

“I have worked unstintingly during my time as chief executive of BHCC to be an open CEO, setting a learning culture and modelling accountable managerial leadership.

“I have appreciated the fellowship of so many who have signed up to our learning and improvement journey. I hope that many of those friendships will be sustained into whatever comes next.”

  1. Duncan Hill Reply

    £270,000 is over 16 years’ work for someone on the living wage.

    • Kyle Reply

      That is what it costs whwn you effectively force redundancy on a chief exec.

      • Patrick Reply

        It is obscene and a waste of Council Tax payers money. Laughable when you consider they want 5/6% Council Tax rises every year, supposedly to protect essential services. SNOUTS IN THE TROUGH !!!

  2. Mac Reply

    Theres a lot of “I have” and not enough “my minions have”…

  3. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    This is similar to when the incoming Tory administration booted out Alan McCarthy – at a cost of £500,000 – in 2007.

    • Gerald Wiley Reply

      @Christopher Hawtree – so are you saying that getting rid of Penny was the right thing to do as the precedent had already been set?

      And why do we need a CEO anyway? I thought that is what council leaders did…

  4. HJarrs Reply

    What incompetence! Here was a CEO chosen with cross party support only 3 years ago at a cost of £30k!

    One of the first acts by the last Green administration was to reduce the costs of an expensive senior management that had been recruited by the Conservative administration, but they made a point of not clearing the decks in a politically motivated swoop to put in their placemen and they did not alter the senior structure precisely because of the waste of money it would be.

    But now what do we find? Warren Morgan, who only today tried to make capital out of £2500 of training for the former council leader, costs the council tax payer over 100 times more in a most ludicruous waste of money.

    Warren and his Labour Party’s partisanship and inability to work with other parties and council officers is legendary. But even I wouldn’t have credited them with blowing £300k+ on getting rid of the old CEO and recruiting a new one!

    One month in and Labour’s achievements are…council houses planned under the Green administration re-announced, a talking shop, sorry, Commission on poverty created to put off any decisions and now blowing £300k+ for nothing!

    This is Labour at its worst! But if you voted for them, I can’t say I didn’t warn you!

    • Duncan Hill Reply

      Of course 64% of those who voted DIDN’T vote Labour.

  5. feline1 Reply

    It’s an absolute scandal the amount of taxpayer’s money that gets shovelled into the troughs of these public sector loons. We have about 350 homeless people sleeping rough on the streets of the city every night and pensioners lying for hours in their own faeces because their minimum wage carers don’t have time do their jobs, and yet still these jackass “Chief Executives” fly away in their golden parachutes with their lottery-winning style remuneration. I honestly wonder how they sleep at night.

    • Albert Hartstein Reply

      I expect they sleep very soundly, as they don’t give a tinkers about the people you just mentioned !

  6. Warren Reply

    We should be focusing on what Penny Thompson’s history is like. She’s now reported to have been paid around £570,000 from leaving jobs early now – not just here in Brighton, but also from Hackney council.

    She should be ashamed of taking so much council tax money from the public for what will effectively be her failing repeatedly at her job.

    She should do the honest thing and turn down a big portion of the money and leave with some integrity.

    • Hjarrs Reply

      Yeah, like you would refuse the money! We should be concentrating on the disgraceful profligacy of Warren Morgan with public money.

      I believe the commonality here is Labour councils squandering public money by paying people off.

      • Gerald Wiley Reply

        Always good to see ‘ethical’ green party supporters leading by example!

        Just like Jason and @brighton bluenose demanding a reduction in use of airports and then flying off for courses and regular holidays to their holiday villas.

        And once again the green sycophant can’t justify the financial waste but has to turn the attack on to others – typical actions of the odious greens who seem to have no concept of economics or ‘value for money’.

        Yet again the greens are telling us how to behave and then doing something entirely different themselves.

  7. roy pennington Reply

    tell us how old she was to qualify for early retirement

    and put an image of her signature on the article: it would tell all ….

  8. Albert Hartstein Reply

    A huge waste of our money. Will she be taxed on it ? Somehow I doubt it. The only consolation is that Brighton and Hove will be better off without her greedy snout in the trough, but then, what comes in after her will probably be just as bad,if not worse.

  9. Albert Hartstein Reply

    Since we pay their greatly inflated, and largely undeserved, salaries, wouldn’t it be nice if we, their employers, were consulted, and had the final say in these obscene payoffs?

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