CEO pay – you couldn’t make it up

A few days ago, Surrey Live – the on-line local newspaper – mentioned for the second time  the saga of the council Chief Executive’s ‘pay rise’.

We all know the background by now, of course..  But what continues to irk the Eye is the lack of any statement by the CEO or the current Leader about their involvement in the story..  We presume that their silence means ‘guilty’ – and we assume that prolonged silence means ‘very guilty’.

Anyway, the text of the Surrey Live article doesn’t help their case very much.  Read the end of this extract:

“The pay increase was approved by the former leader of the borough who has since retired. In a letter sent to all staff and councillors on Friday (August 16), current council leader Richard Brooks urged councillors to treat her with the “same fair processes” as she does her own staff, adding: “I know over the last few weeks Karen has endured a large amount of public reaction because of her position. I hope everyone will recognise their responsibility to all our employees, including Karen, who has no right of public reply.”

“The council did not want to add any further comment.”

We reckon the ‘no right of public reply’ is a fiction.  And, anyway, it’s not the same thing as being banned from speaking. But even when invited to comment, the council stayed silent.  Why?

The suspicious behaviour of the main participants – the current Leader and the CEO – has brought the council – the honest councillors and the hardworking staff – into such disrepute that they should both do the decent thing and stand down.

21 thoughts on “CEO pay – you couldn’t make it up

  1. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?!?

    Another view point may be that given there is an investigation ongoing those involved do not want to comment until this is concluded. (Although the council’s statement could have explicitly said that)

    • The ‘guilty’ I’m talking about is the bringing of the council into disrepute. Mentions on BBC TV and radio, umpteen critical comments in local on-line forums, mentions in the local paper and now in Prvate Eye – without the principal players saying anything about what they did or did not do, or explaining their silence – is eough for any jury to conclude ‘guilty beyond reasonable doubt’. You might be right about ‘not wanting to comment’, but that doesn’t do anything to stem the damage. For years to come, whenever the council says that it doesn’t have the funds to do something the story of the CEO’ pay will be revived.

    • Investigation is not the issue, the exhorbitant and greedy pay grab is fact, and in light of huge local dissatisfaction with the management, performance and poor communication by the Conservative cabal at SHBC, this has now been further exposed by so many being stirred to react.

      Innocent –you’re having a larf!! It is a fact.

  2. When this was first raised I suggested they CEO quit as I believe it was greedy to accept the pay rise, and naive to think that no one would question it and the residents would be content. It is so outrageous, it also suggest that both the CEO and the former leader were colluding and conspiring together secretly, and although this may never be able to be proved by carefully keeping nothing documented or spoken outside, this can now never be disbelieved. As a result, there can never be trust restored in the CEO as their perceived integrity is in tatters and no resident wants decisions made by an individual who appears to have abused their position for their own self gain. To be honest, no one will now want to employ her so she may desperately try to cling to this job. If there is a danger of corruption, should she not be suspended immediately ?

      • Why is it ‘almost impossible’ to suspend – or fire – a council CEO? Surely any employee, in any position, who does not satisfy the criteria for a job – in this case honesty and transparency spring to mind – can be removed from their position. There then may follow an enquiry but at least the employee is in no doubt as to their status
        .

      • Angela, I wrote early in July: : “What are known as the governance statutory chief officers, the first three listed above being the head of paid service, the chief finance or s 151 officer and the monitoring officer, have (in England) additional statutory employment protection due to the nature of their role in having to ‘speak truth unto power’, which is not always welcome. These statutory provisions are adopted by authorities as mandatory standing orders but are also contractually reflected in the JNC conditions of service.”

        “Local authorities are required to designate one of their officers as the head of paid service (this is usually the chief executive), one as the monitoring officer and one as the “section 151 officer” with responsibility for administration of the authority’s financial affairs.”

        JNC = Joint Negotiating Committee”

        In practice, it seems easier to pay a CEO to leave than it is to sack them.

  3. I believe the CEO and Councillors are playing a “keep quiet and it will all go away” game, and whilst right now there is a fair amount of noise, it will inevitably die down – which will be disgraceful. Whats more the “noise” is being created by some die hard, concerned citizens (thank goodness we have some) but the last time I looked the non-council petition was showing less than 2,000 signatures – that hardly reflects an enraged, whole community. And lets not kid ourselves that Karen will never work again – there are too many examples in the public sector of senior officials who have performed worse than this who are reemployed elsewhere at equally fat salaries. Until central government involve themselves with an investigation the likelihood is that it will all fade away – as I say, disgraceful.

    • Perhaps rather than an online petition, we need a more physical protest and expression of anger. There was a group of several hundred at the Arena car park protest in the park that got lots of publicity in the press. Perhaps a similar outside the council offices will get the attention we need. Banners like “Get your wheels Whelan” and “Waster Whelan” “Whelan’s a weed” and “Whelan the Witch” may send the right message of what people think.

    • Of course, you’re right, Alan. The ‘council’ is lying low, and waiting for the storm to die down. But this isn’t a sprint – it’s a marathon. Go through all the formal hoops – collect enough arguments and evidence to submit an official Complaint to the council. After the Complaint runs its course (it can’t be done before then), it’s time to involve the Ombudsman. In the meantime, honest councillors and honest staff may get so fed up with their lousy reputation in the eyes of the public that they take the necessary actions.

  4. Can I plug the petition again? We need 3500 signatures to get a hearing at Full Council, so far we’ve got 1400 (40%) in two weeks, a good start for a local petition. Now an extra super effort from everyone is required to get this over the line. Please let as many people know as possible and ask them to tell their friends and neighbours too. Thanks for all the support.
    https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/surrey-heath-borough-council-s-ceo-s-pay-increase-of-37-to-ps197-000

  5. In view of this exorbitant and obscene increase to the CEO salary, one assumes that the greedy SHBC is awash with cash. So how pray that they keep increasing the council tax each year to the maximum, one of the only councils to do so. It certainly does not represent value for money. Regarding the salary increase Mr M GOVE the minister for Surrey and SHBC should be made aware of this grossly undemocratic decision (as I am sure he has been) and put his authority behind getting truthfully to the bottom of this debacle for the for the despairing council taxpayers of Surrey Heath!

    • That’s the question that taxpayers will ask for years to come, Jeff. Which is why this saga has done so much harm to the council’s credibility. The principal players need to stand down to restore the council’s reputation.

    • Apart from trips to his consituency association in Windlesham and the occasional visit for photo opportunity purposes, Mr M. Gove hasn’t done much for the constituency during his time as MP (the trains are still rubbish, the traffic is still rubbish, the air quality is still rubbish, the town centre is still rubbish, etc.) – perhaps if there were a real chance that somebody could replace him in an election he might show an interest, but until then, we’re just here to return him to Westminster to pursue his dream of building a proud independent nation, where CEOs can do what they want without interference…

      • Need to stick up for Michael Gove because he sends me (could be anyone if you subscribe) a monthly news letter …he does well ….he is a bit busy at the mo! .and he lets everyone know what he has done each month for our constituents which is quite a lot or at least partaken…in many meetings…On saying that I will never vote for a Tory in local elections ever again…and hope they get wiped out completely next time in local elections.
        SHBC are rubbish….just waiting for some of the past Conservative Councillors
        to partake in the whole discussion….
        so far only one (PD ) has admitted to not knowing of this scandal..unless I am mistaken..All anyone needs to know…was it legal for MG to implement this increase without a single councillor knowing and RB …did he know?

    • As I’ll probably say more than once, I don’t think we’ve yet heard ‘the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’. What’s more, I bet none of the councillors would say that we have. Which amounts to a verdict of ‘guilty’. Though I still think the main ‘crime’ has been to bring the council into disrepute – damage that will last for years. The Tories (because they’re the party in power, not because they’re Tories) are acting in immediate self-interest and to hell with the consequences for the longer term.

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