Jeremy Rowe

Cornwall Councillor for the Parishes of Egloshayle, St Breock, St Ervan, St Eval, St Issey, St Mabyn & St Tudy Learn more

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“Compensation for loss of office”

by Jeremy Rowe on 30 June, 2010

You may recall back in February that Cornwall Council announced that Peter Lewis, the then Corporate Director for Corporate Support – as snappy a job description as you’re likely to come across – was leaving the authority for the local government equivalent of ‘musical differences’. (Mr Lewis’s department was the one that launched the Office Accommodation Review which made such an unnecessary mess of the Higher Trenant issue.) In a statement issued at the time the Chief Executive was quoted as saying:

“Over recent months, and particularly during discussions about the Council’s Business Plan, budget and improvement agenda, Corporate Support Director Peter Lewis has expressed a desire to sharpen the focus and increase the pace of change beyond what I consider the Council is ready for at this time. Consequently Peter has decided to leave Cornwall Council in order to contribute to an organisation with which he can feel more aligned.”

While that was a refreshingly honest assessment of the situation from a council Chief Exec, it doesn’t exactly paint a picture of an employee forced out the door with a gun to his head. It’s therefore somewhat surprising to learn that a substantial payment (£78,750 to be precise) was paid to the outgoing Director as “compensation for loss of office”. (The phrase comes from Cornwall Council’s Draft Statement of Accounts for 2009/10 which, if you fancy it, you can read here.)

Quite often the nature of such high profile departures from organisations remains a mystery to those outside the inner circle, and I wouldn’t want to second guess how those discussions went. But many people will question how such a large amount of money could be paid as compensation to someone who clearly wanted to be somewhere else altogether.

(My colleague Alex Folkes has also written about this issue here.)

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