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Council Dodges Question About Planning Chief’s Six-figure Payoff

Published on: 25 Jul, 2020
Updated on: 27 Jul, 2020

By Martin Giles

Council leader Caroline Reeves has ducked a question about the termination payment given to Tracey Coleman, the borough council’s former Head of Planning.

The Dragon NEWS understands the sum was in the region of £100k-£120k. If so, that would have required “referral to the council”.

Rule 12.5 of GBC’s Pay Policy 2020-2021 states: “Any proposal to make a termination payment of £95,000 or more will be referred to the Council for approval before any offer is confirmed and will only be agreed in exceptional circumstances (see section 10.4) In the event of such a payment being proposed, a detailed breakdown of the components (for example redundancy, pension, pension strain, voluntary payments, outstanding holiday, pay in lieu of notice and any other contractual payments) will be provided for councillors.”

But councillors appear to be unaware of the details.

The Guildford Dragon asked Cllr Reeves: “Was the termination payment to Tracey Coleman, which we understand to have been £100k-120k, referred to full council, as required under GBC rules? Can you confirm that the payment and termination arrangements were legitimate and compliant with GBC’s rules?”

Her response gave no further information and failed to confirm compliance with GBC’s rules. “As we stated last time to your questions about Tracey Coleman, we don’t disclose details about our staff.”

In the introduction to the official GBC policy and in section 12, the need for openness and transparency are stressed. “We recognise the importance of ensuring openness and transparency and high standards of corporate governance, with clear lines of accountability in our pay decision-making processes and procedures.

“Any pay-related decisions must be capable of public scrutiny, be able to demonstrate proper and appropriate use of public funds and ensure value for money. The arrangements we have in place are designed to reflect these requirements, as well as ensuring compliance with all relevant legislation and other statutory regulation.”

But it is believed a gagging clause, as routinely employed by GBC in such cases, was incorporated in Ms Coleman’s termination agreement, preventing either party from disclosing details. The agreement would have been approved by GBC’s employment committee comprising Cllrs Caroline Reeves (Lib Dem), Joss Bigmore (R4GV) and Paul Spooner (Con ‘ind’).

The matter may be raised at next Tuesday’s full council meeting but that would likely be discussed in camera, excluding the press and the public.

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test 3 Responses to Council Dodges Question About Planning Chief’s Six-figure Payoff

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    July 25, 2020 at 5:07 pm

    A bit late for seeking approval of this payment. It is a fait accompli. Horse, stable door, bolted… come to mind

  2. Mike Murphy Reply

    July 26, 2020 at 4:08 pm

    Who do these elected councillors think they are?

    Yet another decision made by now the Lib Dem Tory clones conniving with the R4GV to pay huge amounts of money to an already very overpaid council employee.

    Then to have the temerity to refuse to disclose this large amount to the Guildford Council Tax Payers.

    We can only conclude that they have a reason for hiding this payment.

    Keep up the good work Dragon NEWS and keep letting us know the secrets that GBC don’t want the public to know.

  3. Jules Cranwell Reply

    July 27, 2020 at 6:57 am

    So much for the much vaunted return to openness and transparency.

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