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Daily Mail Online Reports Guildford Has Highest-paid Council Officer

Published on: 19 Apr, 2023
Updated on: 20 Apr, 2023

By Martin Giles

An article in the Daily Mail online is reporting that Guildford tops the league of highest-paid local authority workers.

The article is headlined: “Council rich list revealed: The UK’s highest-paid local authority workers are unmasked as survey shows 2,759 town hall staff made MORE than £100,000 last year – and three took home over half a MILLION.” It is based on a press release from the Taxpayers Alliance.

An accompanying table titled: “Highest renumerated local authority employees” shows Guildford at the top with an unnamed managing director receiving £607, 633.

But what is not clear from the table alone is that the figure relates to all the final year costs of a departing managing director in 2021, and that the sum is not just salary but a total including: a termination payment of £154,240, benefits totalling £5,688, a pension contribution of £339,158, as well as salary.

In the article, it is claimed that GBC refused to confirm the identity of the managing director but today (April 20) a spokesperson for GBC said: “We can confirm that we have not refused to name the managing director. In the original enquiry that we responded to, we were not asked the question. By the time we picked up the follow-up enquiry, the story had already been published.”

The payments were made to James Whiteman the former managing director of GBC who took early retirement when Guildford Borough Council decided, as a cost-cutting measures to have joint senior council officers with Waverley Borough Council. The pension contribution was to compensate for the years left unworked.

In October 2021 The Dragon was told that Whiteman’s redundancy payment would be substantially over £100,000, with additional payments to cover pension liabilities. In 2020-21 his salary was £135,715, He left in December 2021.

Some councillors were unhappy with the payment at the time. Conservative councillor Keith Witham (Pirbright) went on the record at the time saying the public would not know the “eye-watering” amount given in redundancy payments because the decision was, as a staffing matter, taken in secret at a council meeting.

See also: Conservative Councillor Says New Joint Chief Executive Appointment Process ‘Stinks’

The current joint chief executives salary is believed to be in the region of £150,000.

A GBC spokesperson said: “In the last financial year we made a one-off payment of £154,000 to the former managing director. The payment was a legal obligation and reflects over 30 years of loyal service to our borough. This payment was shared equally with Waverley Borough Council in line with our partnership agreement.

“GBC also paid £339,000 into the Surrey local government pension scheme. The fund supports all members of that scheme. We made the payment from a capital receipt, under the flexible use of capital receipt government scheme, so this has no impact on the services we provide to our residents.

“The savings achieved as a result of the Joint Management Team across Guildford and Waverley Borough Councils has exceeded the target of £300,000 per year. The new structure is costing the council £420,000 less than the previous structure.

“We are confident the collaboration with Waverley Borough Council will create further opportunities for cost savings. This will result in better value for money for residents and help to protect and improve public services.

GBC has been asked to confirm that it refused to name the former managing director, as claimed in the Daily Mail article.

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Responses to Daily Mail Online Reports Guildford Has Highest-paid Council Officer

  1. Tom Banton Reply

    April 20, 2023 at 8:11 am

    Staggering. Absolutely staggering. Disgusting doesn’t even begin to cover it. An abjectly useless council paying people these absolutely obscene sums whilst hiking up council tax. What has this nation come to?

  2. John Perkins Reply

    April 20, 2023 at 9:34 am

    A look at the government web page, “”, is instructive. It’s calculator suggests statutory redundancy of about £15,232. Anything above that is not a legal obligation.

    Presumably, nor is any payment for benefits.

    The phrase “The pension contribution was to compensate for the years left unworked.” is strange. It too would seem not to be a legal obligation.

    Of course, employer and employee are free to negotiate whatever terms they wish. But the law should not be used to defend something which ordinary people might regard as excessive.

    • Jane Milton Reply

      April 20, 2023 at 2:49 pm

      He wasn’t made redundant. This was an early retirement package that he accepted. The Taxpayers Alliance is a far right “think tank” and it appears they are stirring it up in advance of the local elections. For someone in his position this is a fairly standard package.

  3. Jim Allen Reply

    April 20, 2023 at 8:28 pm

    In defence of the now retired officer James Whiteman, he gave 30 years of good service to our community and was loyal to Guildford borough. What you saw was what you got. He came across as a honest man when I first met him in 2004.

    He was not a fly-by-night character like some council officers I can think of who have been given undisclosed sums to go and have left the borough with a very unpopular Local Plan.

  4. Dave Fielding Reply

    April 22, 2023 at 6:34 am

    The Daily Mail article is misleading. It says “took home”; it wasn’t taken home, a large part was a pension contribution which will be paid out over many years. Let’s hope The Mail publishes the same table next year with the headline “GBC Slash Chief Exec Spending by 300 per cent.”

    Anyway back to James Whiteman, he was one of life’s good guys, worked hared for GBC, used to bump into him on a Saturday in HMV. Shocking taste in music.

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