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Are There ‘Lessons to Learn’ As Grievance Case Against David Hill Is Dropped?

Published on: 18 Oct, 2013
Updated on: 18 Oct, 2013
David Hill centre on the balcony of the Guildhall during the commemoration of Armed Forces Day, June 2013.

David Hill centre on the balcony of the Guildhall during the commemoration of Armed Forces Day, June 2013.

Guildford Borough Council has confirmed that it has dropped the grievance case against former chief executive David Hill but the council is going to consider if there are any lessons to learn.

The case was brought by Judith Coslett the former head of the council’s human resources department in July. Mr Hill continued in the council’s employment from July to October this year on special leave, in receipt of full pay.

Some council watchers suspect that the grievance was dropped as part of a severance deal negotiated with David Hill, a deal which, it is understood, was not finalised until shortly before his employment formally ended on Thursday, October 10.

But in a statement the council said: “As David Hill no longer works for the council, the grievance against him cannot be concluded. The council is now considering whether there are any lessons to be learnt.

“The council’s grievance policy states that the procedure will be carried out in confidence. As a responsible employer, we do not comment on the details of such confidential staff matters.”

The council is also refusing to confirm the amount of Mr Hill’s termination payment, believed to be £160,000, claiming: “We cannot disclose the details of any financial settlement.” But in 2012, despite similar refusals by the council to give information, a standard report of the council’s spending did show the amount that was paid to Jim Miles, a strategic director who was suspended by David Hill and who then resigned. It is expected that a similar account will have to be made of the payment to David Hill, and other termination payments, in due course.

In 2012 councils were ordered for the first time to include the number and cost of exit packages in their annual accounts, which were published by almost all local authorities including Guildford Borough Council.

Bob Neill (Con MP for Bromley & Chislehurst), until September 2012 the local government minister, said at the time: “These golden goodbyes are deeply concerning. Dipping into the public purse to make such eye-watering pay-offs is unacceptable.

“Our new transparency rules are forcing these pay-offs into the open, meaning councils must face public scrutiny and account for what in many instances appears to be a very casual attitude to spending public money.”

In an effort to pin the council down on whether it had to abandon the grievance against Mr Hill or not, The Guildford Dragon NEWS asked the council on Wednesday, October 16: “Was it mandatory for the council to drop the grievance procedure or was it discretionary?”

The council responded the following day: “We cannot pursue grievances against former employees.”

The Guildford Dragon NEWS has asked Guildford Borough Council to forward a request to David Hill to contact The Guildford Dragon NEWS for comment.

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