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David Hill Expected to Be Paid £160k As He Leaves Council With Immediate Effect

Published on: 11 Oct, 2013
Updated on: 15 Oct, 2013
David Hill in what is believed to be his last public appearance as GBC's chief executive in June

David Hill in what is believed to be his last public appearance as GBC’s chief executive in June.

David Hill’s position as chief executive of Guildford Borough Council is to disappear as part of a council management re-organisation. He is leaving even before the investigation into a grievance made against him is known to have been completed.

It is understood that Mr Hill has been offered a £160,000 pay-off but it is still unclear whether he has formally accepted the amount and severance negotiations have been finalised. The former chief executive has been on special leave since July and has been receiving his full salary of £127,801.

A report attached to the agenda for last night’s council meeting was, at one stage, withdrawn from the council’s website in the lead up to the meeting because, the Guildford Dragon NEWS has been told, Mr Hill did not want it to be disclosed. Later it was re-published.

One of the 14 recommendations in the report carried out by Dr Robin Hooper, a former chief executive of Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council, and previously described as “one of the biggest hitters in local government”, is: “That the council formally acknowledges the work undertaken by David Hill, during his period of office as Chief Executive, to make the organisation more efficient. His support in the review of the organisation’s management structure has been most helpful and the Council wishes him well in the future.”

This afternoon in a council press release, apparently in line with the recommendation, stated: “The new structure replaces the current roles of Chief Executive and three strategic directors with those of a Managing Director, six Executive Heads of Service and six Heads of Service.

“As a result of these changes, David Hill will leave the Council with immediate effect. Sue Sturgeon, formerly a strategic director and the Council’s Chief Financial Officer was appointed as the new Managing Director.

The release went on to list achievements during David Hill’s tenure and ended: “The Council thanks David for these achievements and wishes him every success in the future.”

Towards the end of David Hill’s time at Guildford, in July 2012,  seven Aldermen, in an unprecedented move, wrote of their grave concern for council officers’ morale. At the same time the Guildford Dragon News, alone amongst local media, published an opinion piece on the subject, “There is something wrong at Guildford Borough Council“.

Speaking about the report and the changes, council leader Stephen Mansbridge (Con, Ash South & Tongham) said, “We are looking for a sense of openness, honesty and trust. We are looking for a strong sense of partnership between members and officers. We are looking for a sense of pride in what we do and in our organisation. We are looking for the empowerment of our staff to take the delegation of our decisions down to the lowest safe level.”

Whether, in light of today’s announcements, the grievance against David Hill made by Judith Coslett, the former head of HR at Guildford Borough Council, will be pursued, is not known. The council has consistently refused to give any details about the accusations made against him.

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Responses to David Hill Expected to Be Paid £160k As He Leaves Council With Immediate Effect

  1. Jayne Seymour Reply

    October 12, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    Why is Mr Hill being allowed to leave without the full grievance procedure being seen through to the end? This is not open and honest government.

    Why is Mr Hill allowed to take such a huge amount of council tax payers money when he has received his salary and not worked? Far too many unanswered questions GBC.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    October 13, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    Well, the end of an era.

    When a person is tasked with taking the meat off the bone in an organisation that person, even if they intend to stay, will always be in a short term post because the bad feelings generated over: who stays, who goes, why did I have to go and not him or her? etc If they carry out their instructions well they simply cannot remain.

    So did David Hill do a good job? I simply don’t know. Should he be investigated because two people had a disagreement on an unknown subject and cause? I say that as long as it was not a true criminal offense, then, no.

    Do I wish him well? Of course. Let’s hope the trauma he was instructed to cause by way of re-structuring and modifying the financial outlay of the council was worth it for all involved who remain on the pay role and the community of Guildford as a whole.

  3. Gordon Bridger Reply

    October 14, 2013 at 7:18 am

    The management changes proposed by the council are most welcome, as are the assurances by Cllr Mansbridge.

    However the blunders by the council and the demoralisation of staff were not all just the result of bad management. Underlying them is a system of Executive rule, forced upon us by a Labour Government, which puts far too much work pressure on a few councillors on the Executive which meant that they could not cope with all the reports from council officers. The result was that officers, many quite ignorant of Guildford problems, made decisions.

    The Localisim Bill allows councils to revert to the committee system, which while slower, has two benefits: it means that reports by Officers are filtered through a committee before going to the Executive and gives many more Councillors are proper role. I understand that several councils have reverted to this system which is slower but more democratic and in the end more efficient. I hope our council will do the same.

    Another management reform which I would urge councillors to implement, and which the Localism Bill allows, is to review the ridiculous restrictions placed on planning committee councillors from commenting and discussing planning applications before coming to committee and before they know what officers are likely to recommend. This limits proper open debate and gags councillors, quite unnecessarily as well as, once again, gives officers more responsibility than is necessary.

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