“A council chief executive was given a golden handshake of more than £250,000 in a deal that bosses tried to keep secret to avoid causing her “unnecessary or unjustified distress”.
Nicola Bulbeck, 60, left Teignbridge district council in Devon last summer after 11 years’ service. The council had repeatedly refused to reveal how much she received but its draft annual accounts disclosed yesterday that the former barrister left with a £264,000 “exit package”.
It was also revealed that she was allowed to stay on until the day after the general election last year so that she could earn a further £30,000 for being the returning officer.
After leaving the local authority she was appointed an executive director at West Sussex county council last January on an annual salary of £138,000.
There has been concern about a “revolving door” of senior local authority staff receiving significant payoffs before moving to similar jobs.
Several Teignbridge district councillors have alleged that Ms Bulbeck kept her company car as part of the leaving package. The council has declined to comment on the claim.
Phil Shears, who replaced Ms Bulbeck, had defended the decision not to release details of her payout when she departed. He claimed that the disclosure would “cause unnecessary or unjustified distress or damage” to his predecessor. Mr Shears was appointed the council’s managing director on a salary of £94,656, considerably less than Ms Bulbeck earned. Ms Bulbeck had been criticised for accepting a 12 per cent pay rise that took her annual pay packet from £126,000 to almost £142,000.
The district council and the Information Commissioner’s Office rejected several attempts by the Mid-Devon Advertiser to unearth Ms Bulbeck’s settlement. The accounts show that she received £173,091 “compensation for loss of employment” as part of her exit package”.
Jeremy Christophers, the council’s Conservative leader, said: “We have followed strict council policy and abided by the legal advice given.”
Gordon Hook, a Liberal Democrat councillor, said: “The leaving packages for some senior officers at local authorities are nothing short of obscene in the eyes of many. My view is that the general public have every right to know how their council tax is spent.”
Ms Bulbeck was not available for comment yesterday.”
Source: The Times (pay wall)