Heads start rolling at SKDC but what will be the cost in 'golden goodbyes'?

  Posted: 20.08.20 at 16:05 by The Editor

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Heads maybe about to roll at South Kesteven District Council and how much might it cost district council taxpayers?

Independent councillors are demanding answers concerning the departure of senior officials from SKDC as the council plans another corporate restructure.

The district council has begun work on the restructure, which follows on from an earlier shake-up of the senior management team at SKDC barely a couple of years ago.

It also comes in advance of possible local government re-organisation, which may even see the district council disappear altogether.

Council chiefs remain tight-lipped as to what is going on, but the restructure was debated as an agenda item at Employment Committee late last month.

The minutes from the July 29 meeting noted: "Work programme to be updated to include the Corporate Restructure in September."

Coun Ashley Baxter

Discussions took place behind closed doors, with the minutes saying this is because open reporting may lead to the identity of the individuals concerned.

Minutes from the meeting also revealed: "The Chief Executive [Karen Bradford] presented the exempt report on the proposed corporate restructure.

"Members were given the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the proposals. The Chief Executive responded to the questions raised."

The minutes also said: "Notes that a further report will be presented to the Employment Committee in September 2020 with the feedback and findings of the consultation and will consider any further proposed amendments to the corporate restructure."

Earlier this month, following the meeting, SKDC announced the departure of Steve Bowyer, the CEO of InvestSK, the 100% council-owned economic development and regeneration company.

Coun Phil Dilks

This led Independent councillor Ashley Baxter to seek further details on the departure, including whether Mr Bowyer has received any pay-offs and signed any related confidentiality agreements.

SKDC has declined to comment in detail on this and the upcoming restructure.

During the previous restructure, pay-offs were eventually revealed in council reports, but SKDC responded that savings on senior salaries would in time generate longer term savings for the council.

A council statement requested by Nub News concerning Mr Bowyer's departure commented: “Information surrounding the departure of any member of staff are HR matters, and therefore, it would be inappropriate to comment.”

A further statement requested by Nub News on the current/upcoming restructure said: "This is an ongoing process therefore, it would be inappropriate to comment beyond our statement.”

Coun Baxter (Ind- Market and West Deeping) has since submitted further questions to council leader Kelham Cooke and the chief executive on this, saying there have been several other recent senior staff departures, with Coun Baxter naming individual officers.

Coun Phil Dilks (Ind-Deeping St James) recalled that following Coun Cooke and his predecessor Matthew Lee taking over the leadership of SKDC in 2017, the "entire senior management team" departed, along with the chief executive, with a "new set of directors appointed."

Coun Dilks told Nub News: “The ‘restructuring’ created enormous upheaval and disruption across the council’s employees (as I said at the time), not to mention unbearable stress for loyal officers who never knew if they were next to be given days or even hours notice that their employment was at an end.

"Most accepted their fate and signed the non-disclosure agreement placed in front of them in return for a payoff of thousands of pounds to go quietly. Almost £1 million was handed out from the public purse in ‘golden goodbye’ sweeteners."

Now, with a new chief executive - "the council’s third Chief Executive in three years" - staff had hoped for a period of stability.

Coun Dilks added: “Now it appears yet another round of ‘restructuring’ is already underway, with the Chief Executive of InvestSK – first to go this time.

“South Kesteven council taxpayers deserve better than an official ‘no comment’ from the council when asked how much they are paying for the latest round of golden goodbyes.”

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