Petition criticising £270k payoff to outgoing Brighton and Hove chief executive blocked by council

Posted On 30 Jun 2015 at 2:49 am

A petition criticising the £270,000 payoff to the chief executive of Brighton and Hove City Council has been blocked by officials.

Liberal Democrat candidate Jeremy Gale described it as a dark day for democracy after being told that his proposed e-petition would not be accepted by Brighton and Hove City Council.

Penny Thompson

Penny Thompson

Mr Gale said that the petition “sought to give residents answers over the removal of outgoing CEO Penny Thompson and the bumper six-figure payout she is set to receive”.

Today (Tuesday 30 June) is Ms Thompson’s last official day as chief executive. Her departure was agreed at a meeting of the council’s Policy and Resources (P&R) Committee on Thursday 18 June.

Mr Gale said that the proposed e-petition was submitted via the council’s website on Saturday 21 June.

It took officers a week to inform him, he said, that the public would be denied the opportunity to add their support.

The proposed petition said: “We the undersigned petition Brighton and Hove Council to

  • Explain why the P&R meeting of Thursday 18 June was held behind closed doors.
  • Explain the reasons as to why Penny Thompson was put in a position where she had to resign.
  • Explain why, at a time of budget pressures, a £269,000 payout was agreed.
  • State what safeguards will be put in place to protect council tax payers from obscene levels of payouts in the future.”

Mr Gale had hoped to attract more than 1,250 signatures, the level of support that triggers a full council debate.

Jeremy Gale

Jeremy Gale

When the petition was rejected, officials cited “possible legal sensitivities”, saying that “it is not appropriate for the petition to be presented at a council meeting”.

Mr Gale said: “The whole process of removing Penny Thompson has been shrouded in a cloak of secrecy.

“The meeting that decided Penny’s fate and also the £269,000 she is set to receive was held behind closed doors, followed by politicians hiding behind walls of silence and carefully constructed statements.

“We now have unelected officers denying residents an opportunity to show that they want answers regarding the decision. It is a dark day for local democracy.

“The payout has seemingly been nodded through by the Conservatives despite the fact the Conservative government, in its Enterprise Bill, hopes to introduce a cap on exit payments made to public sector workers to end six-figure payouts.

“It is this kind of toothless opposition that angers so many residents who will now be footing the bill for Thompson’s payout.

“Our petition also sought to establish what safeguards would be put in place by the council to protect residents from any obscene payouts in the future.

“It is only right for the council to establish such mechanisms to ensure our council tax is being spent on service provision rather than any future golden handshakes.”

  1. Rostrum Reply

    I do like a thesaurus …. So insightful …

  2. The Torch Reply


    Why not petition Penny directly, on her blog:

    I’m sure she’ll give us the cash back then.

  3. HJarrs Reply

    Looks like Labour already closing down any dissent.

  4. RJM Reply

    Penny Thomson got the 269k. Her salary accodring to the council web site (a spreadsheet) says she got 150k as her last salary. Normally these people have personal contracts not standard council ones. They get them from the Chief Executives Union – an association. Point is that the basis of her payoff is obscure – its more than a years money. On top of this is the 300k she got from Hackney BC when she was 52. On top of all this assuming she is 60, her pension will kick in. There might be pension top up rolled into the 269k. When the pension runs (she has been more or less in continuous Public sector service) she will get a lump sum of say two thirds final salary, plus a lump sum I guess of two thirds of her last years salary…lets say 100k. This is crazy money for someone who offered no improvement in services and who in her blog goes on and on about ‘equalities’ but has little to say about anything else eg no council homes built, Preston park barracks been undeveloped 10 years, attempted cuts to excellent childrens centres, Tower House meals cuts and so on and on and on.
    A nightmare powerpoint/email/paper shuffler writ large.
    Good riddance. Cut the losses and get rid of her. Now get rid of the rest of the top structure and get new people in from voluntary, retail and european sectors.

  5. Arthur Petworth Reply

    This is a disgraceful attempt by Brighton Labour to deny that they have spent £250k+ on shoehorn-ing in their own woman ( and we have already been told who this is). A bloody disgrace and an affront to local democracy. Labour Letdown!

  6. sasquatch Reply

    The brent council of the 1980s have got nothing on this shower in our council. One day the truth will out!

  7. Thor Reply

    if he makes the minimal signatures needed they need to pick it up, if not take it up with higher London mp. Absolute disgrace

  8. Michael adlozza Reply

    Shame this guy isn’t on the council. I feel let down by labour.

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