Huge pay-off revealed for senior Southend Council figure

A senior manager walked away from Southend City Council with an “eye-watering” £176,000 “golden goodbye”.

Figures for council staff earning up to £200,000 show one high-ranking member of senior management was given a pay-off of £176,295 in the financial year from 2022 to 2023.

It is not clear which officer received the settlement.

It comes after the Taxpayers’ Alliance annual “rich list” revealed on Monday that one interim executive director, responsible for neighbourhoods and environment, had a salary and pension benefits of £299,224.

Figures for 2023/24 are yet to be published, but former chief executive Rob Polkinghorne is likely to have been awarded a substantial pay out after leaving his £185,000 a year post last year after just eight months in the job.

The total amount spent on exit packages in 2022/23 was more than £600,000 – the lowest figure in four years.

Tory council leader Tony Cox said he put measures in place to curb the use of interim managers when his administration took over from Labour, Lib Dems and Independents last May.

He said: “The £300,000 interim director was an agency interim member of staff that was brought in. They were eye-watering sums. There were too many people below the chief executive and it’s not the salary per se but the cumulative effect of having so many people on those levels of salary. That was why there was voluntary redundancies and why some of those roles remain unfilled.”

A council spokesman said: “Southend Council continuously reviews staffing at all levels across the council to ensure services can meet the demand of our residents.

“From time to time, service areas are redesigned and restructured meaning that some roles might change or are no longer required.

“Any member of staff made either voluntarily or compulsorily redundant is contractually entitled to an exit package regardless of their level, and these cases are no different. The amount shown on the published figures will differ and can include, but are not limited to, their salary up to the point they left, a redundancy payment, payment for any annual leave not taken, and a pension ‘strain’ depending on age, for example.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter