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.
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.”
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.”
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