Fringe Box



Broke Woking’s £2.5m Commissioner Bill

Published on: 6 Jun, 2024
Updated on: 9 Jun, 2024

By Chris Caulfield

local democracy reporter

Commissioners will be in place at Woking Borough Council until at least 2028  with the the appointees potentially costing the bankrupt authority more than £2.5 million, it has been confirmed.

See also: Woking Receives ‘Unprecedented’ Government Bailout

Commissioners were first sent into the council in May 2023 as the borough was going bust under debts approaching £2 billion  to lend expertise into how best clear up the mess.

Their first report into the council’s dire financial situation was published in October leading to the then local-government minister Lee Rowley warning that “the most difficult decisions are yet to come”.

The three appointees  have since been notified that they will be needed at the council for four more years – until May 2028.

Combined, the three commissioners, Tony Redmond, Carol Culley, and Mervyn Greer could receive up to a combined £2,524,000 in that time.

The money is based on a daily fee they can charge the council, and the number of days they can bill for.

Lead commissioner Mr Redmond is entitled to claim £1,200 per day for up to 150 days a year.

Ms Culley can make £1,100 a day for 260 days, and Mr Greer £1,100 for 150 days.

If they work the duration of their appointments,  it could cost the people of Woking up to £720,000, £1,144,000 and £660,000 respectively – or just over £2.5m.

They will work alongside the government appointed managing director Richard Carr, who could receive the equivalent of £286,000 a year himself until May 2025.

Their appointments, pay and durations of stay were confirmed in letters sent by the Department of Levelling up, Housing and Communities in May.

The Secretary of State said he expects the commissioners to “work closely” and “deliver improvement at the council”.

One letter read: “Since you were nominated as commissioner you have led for the commissioner team on matters related to finance, which has been a significant undertaking.

“The original expectation was that you would be fulfilling this role for two to three days a week, but it is clear that more of your time has been required and will continue to be required over the coming weeks and months, and to reflect this I can confirm our expectation is now that you will work up to a maximum of 260 days per annum for each year of the intervention.

“You will continue to be entitled to a fee for each day you act as commissioner. You will also be entitled to reasonable expenses.

“Under the terms of the Directions, it is the council’s responsibility to meet these costs and the Secretary of State has set these fees for you at £1,100 per day.

“Fees are payable up to a maximum of 260 days per annum for each year.

“These limits should not be exceeded without prior approval of the Secretary of State.

“As to reasonable expenses, we would expect these to be in accordance with the rules for senior officers set out in the council’s staff handbook.”

The team is to report back to the Secretary of State at six-monthly intervals – or at any other time deemed necessary.

The letter read: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for assisting in this intervention.

“We are very grateful for your commitment to taking up this challenge to improve the performance of Woking Borough Council so that it effectively serves and protects the people of the area.”

Woking Borough Council was approached for comment.

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Responses to Broke Woking’s £2.5m Commissioner Bill

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    June 7, 2024 at 11:46 pm

    With respect to the financial concerns surrounding such government contracts, it is essential to address the lack of incentive and potential inefficiencies in the current compensation structure to these commissioners

    By implementing a performance-based compensation model, Woking could align incentives with desired outcomes, promote accountability, and ensure a more effective utilization of resources.

    The commissioners remuneration should be a basic wage, and unless the public purse is brought under control within six months, the £1,000 per day (which should include expenses) would be paid at the end of the period as a top-up bonus, if the council is in the black.

    This current “succeed or not” payment structure provides no incentive for meaningful action and results in a significant expense of £2.75 million if the commissioners fail, and the council fails to achieve its objectives for the people of Woking. In that unhappy scenario Woking residents would pick up a second bill for failure!

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