CEO’s ‘pay rise’

We’re NOT going to comment on recent rumours that the borough council’s CEO has been suspended, or that she is taking ‘special leave’.  Instead, here’s the council’s official statement:

“Surrey Heath Borough Council is aware of speculation on social media that the Chief Executive, Karen Whelan, has been suspended.

“We would like to confirm that this is not the case.

“The Council’s Chief Executive is currently on a period of leave.  Any queries regarding the business of the Council should in the first instance be directed to the Council’s interim Deputy Chief Executive, Tim Pashen.”

That seems quite clear – for now.  But we wonder about the ‘interim Deputy Chief Executive’.  As we understood that Mr Pashen was made Deputy Chief Executive a while ago, why is he described as ‘interim’?  Where is he going next?? Or is it just careless writing?

Meanwhile, we’re still plugging away.  You’ll remember that perhaps a couple of months ago we submitted a Freedom of Information enquiry about council procedures for awarding pay rises to the CEO.  The reply that we received some weeks later was, in our view, completely inadequate.  So we’ve requested an internal review of how the council handled our enquiry.  Ten days or so ago we received this response from the interim Head of Legal:

“Thank you for your letter/email dated 22 September requesting an internal review.
We will endeavour to respond within 20 working days. However, if the review is complex or requires wider than usual consultation, it may be necessary to extend this deadline by another 20 working days. If this is the case, and your review cannot be completed in the shorter time frame, we will inform you of this. If you have any queries about this letter, please do not hesitate to contact me.

It would be helpful if you would quote the reference number in the Subject line in any future correspondence.

Yours sincerely,”

We see no reason why the outcome of the review should be anything less than satisfactory.  However, if it does turn out to be insufficient, we will, almost inevitably, take the matter further.

39 thoughts on “CEO’s ‘pay rise’

    • Indeed, you’re right, it was a snide innuendo. In the past I’ve made it clear that, in my view, the failure of the ‘principal players’ to – as far as I can tell – be open about what happened, and what they did or did not do, is best explained by concluding that they acted in an a way that is inappropriate to their roles within the council. I think it’s simple – they should either be more open or they should stand down.

      What is YOUR view?

      • I fully agree with your conclusion. If the correct procedure (assuming there is a procedure) was followed it should be a very simple matter to explain the process and who was involved in the decision making. The fact that an investigation needs to be carried out by an outside agency, at Council Tax payers expense, to get to the bottom of this matter has a distinctly nasty smell to it and will almost certainly result in a convenient fudge, otherwise known as a whitewash.

  1. My view is that the CEO’s remuneration is part of an employer – employee relationship and, as such, should be subject to the normal rules of employment confidentiality. However, I recognise that the CEO’s pay is caught up in the nasty bed of snakes that is local politics – in that it is set and controlled by the majority party & always with an eye on their own re-election. When that party’s majority plummets from 30 down to 1 – particularly when there’s now a weak leader in place – it unleashes a wave of blood letting from interested parties queuing up to wield the knife – not against a political opponent, but against a paid employee. The process by which the pay is set should be open to scrutiny, but the employee’s terms & conditions of employment should be remain confidential.

    • There is no defence for the pay and payrise that KW recieves when taken into context with the non performance of SHBC at so many levels. This pay grab debate, is just the tip of the ice berg of voter dissatisfaction with her poor performance and obvious avarice.
      Thankfully the Eye and others keep reminding us all how rotten to the core SHBC had become under her and Gibson, and the rest of the Tory Cabal.

      • Again – people refer to Whelan as a tory. She’s an employee of the council & we don’t know her political views. She’s just a public servant – like all the other council employee – not an elected tory cretin.

  2. It’s fine to have that view in the private sector, but in this instance we’re talking about a paid local council employee, which means your earnings are published in the public domain.
    There’s no debate on this point.

    In regards to how it’s increased and decreased, there is no doubt a clear process as to how that should work, with measures to prevent excessive and/or self certified increases.

    It’ll be interesting to see whether the process was followed, or, worse than that, if there’s a process at all.

  3. Thanks to the Eye for your excellent work. I do think it’s a bit rich to describe asking for an explanation of the process that was followed in awarding the CEO such a substantial and back dated rise, or additional payment allowance, as “interested parties queuing up to wield the knife”. No doubt there are also “interested parties” who would prefer not to be required to account for their actions.

    • Thanks for your support, Helene. In fact, all I’ve asked the council for, so far, is for information about the processes that SHOULD be followed in awarding the CEO a pay rise. I haven’t asked whether they WERE followed. It’s a question that ouught to be answerable in minutes rather than in weeks; it’s just a case of digging out the relevant procedures file and copying the information to me.

  4. Thanks Eye again!
    Keep asking questions otherwise we will never know the answers. Quite surprised at one post… my understanding is that she is a public servant?

    • Public servant – yes, indeed, though it’s hard to believe. As you’ll see in later comments, the council is obliged to publish pay scales. But it doesn’t – and probably shouldn’t – publish the salaries of most individuals within the council. Assuming that there is some sort of performance-related pay, it’s not a good idea to make it public if an individual ‘ordinary’ member of the council hasn’t performed very well.

  5. Publishing your pay statement

    Government Policy is clear. Open indeed Published and Accountable.
    As indicated above the Localism Act requires
    the council to produce and publish a pay
    statement (there is a model pay policy
    statement document attached as appendix
    1 to this document). You should check
    with your council’s legal adviser about the
    specific details. The following is an extract
    from previous LGA: ALACE advice and
    so provides a summary of what the pay
    statement should include:
    • policy on the level and elements of
    remuneration for each chief officer
    • policy on the remuneration of its lowest-
    paid employees (together with its definition
    of ‘lowest-paid employees’ and its reasons
    for adopting that definition)
    • policy on the relationship between the
    remuneration of its chief officers and other
    • policy on other specific aspects of chief
    officers’ remuneration: remuneration on
    recruitment, increases and additions to
    remuneration, use of performance-related
    pay and bonuses, termination payments,
    and transparency.
    The Act defines remuneration widely, to
    include not just pay but also charges, fees,
    allowances, benefits in kind, increases in/
    enhancements of pension entitlements, and
    termination payments.
    The Act also defines the process for
    approving the pay policy statement as
    follows. It:
    • must be approved formally by the council
    meeting itself
    • must be approved by the end of March
    each year, starting with 2012
    • can be amended in-year
    • must as a minimum be published on the
    authority’s website
    • must be complied with when the authority
    sets the terms and conditions for a chief
    The statement may also set out the
    council’s policies relating to the other
    terms and conditions for chief officers.
    Previous legislation requires councils to
    formulate, review, and publish policy on
    making discretionary payments on early
    termination of employment and regulation
    66 of the Local Government Pension
    Scheme (Administration) Regulations 2008
    requires an authority to publish its policy
    on increasing an employee’s total pension
    scheme membership and on awarding
    additional pension.
    Councils are also required to use the pay
    policy statement to set out its policies on
    paying charges, fees (such as for returning
    officer or joint authority duties), allowances,
    and benefits in kind.

    • Really?
      Is everyone still on that “can’t earn more than the PM” cr@p?
      The PM earns more than the PM – £250k for a weekly column in the Telegraph.
      Top civil servants earn more than the PM.
      Dominic Cummings earns more than the PM.

    • I’m just a sad old man Helene – with nothing better to do on a Saturday night. I follow the Eye – with the “Celebrate Camberley” banner, but struggle to find any celebratory articles at all – just pictures of broken bollards, scaffolding, boarded-up shops & zero comments – nothing to celebrate at all. But when Whelen is mentioned, then everyone has an opinion & the site is buzzing – again with nothing to celebrate sadly. A shame really – the site should perhaps be renamed as “Spotlight on Whelan” (copyright Freddie Starr)

      • Are you the same Freddie Starr who has just written that ‘Camberley is a dump’, and referring to the ‘House of Tat’? Yet you feel that others should write celebratory articles.

        When people criticise the Eye for pointing out negative aspects of the town (and I do report when new shops are coming too), I always invite them to provide positive articles instead – the front page of this blog invites comments and enables readers to submit them. Strangely, I don’t think anyone has ever responded further.

        By-the-by, the current CEO has been in post for nine years. The councillors agreed that compulsory purchase could be used to buy London Road properties about fourteen years ago. It’s about fourteen years since the first council ‘working party’ started to look into replacing Arena. In terms of ‘driving the town forward’, this is real bottom gear stuff. In fact, it’s taken so long that consultants’ reports (produced at our expense) about the additional retail space needed in the town have become completely irrelevant. It’s actually the best part of twenty years since the council wrote that redevelopment of the London Road Block was probably the best solution – and there’s been general agreement that the site has been an eyesore for longer than that.

  6. Well done Eye (David) – your continued interest in Camberley and its well being is admirable and much appreciated – as for “on a period of leave” we always used to call them holidays, unless there was something you’d rather your customer (which as SHBC residents that is what we are) wasn’t aware of …

  7. “On a period of leave” is what you tell your customers when an employee is unreachable. Usually it’s due to suspension whilst an investigation is taking place

  8. There is no defence for the pay and payrise that KW recieves when taken into context with the non performance of SHBC at so many levels. This pay grab debate, is just the tip of the ice berg of voter dissatisfaction with her poor performance and obvious avarice.
    Thankfully the Eye and others keep reminding us all how rotten to the core SHBC had become under her and Gibson, and the rest of the Tory Cabal.

    • Camberley is a dump! It’s like every other town struggling against the rise of the Internet & the decline of the the High Street. Every town centre is the same now – the same shops – just in a different order & the same closures too. Camberley must reinvent itself as a “destination” if it is to survive. It can’t go the way of Bracknell – it’s not in the same league. It must attract independent stores if it is to stand out from the crowd. The Ark & Illuminations are 2 of my favourites – I’m sure there are others outside my demographic. Now that SHBC own the town centre, they can drive that reinvention. They now own the HoF building & can get rid of Ashley & his “House of Tat” & redevelop it. If the council don’t invest in the town – why on earth would the private sector? Ashley certainly isn’t!
      Whelan appears to be one of the few people driving forward the town centre regeneration & certainly takes the brunt of the armchair criticism.
      Parking? Yes – put up the prices – they haven’t moved in years. The mistake? They need to provide more short-term parking – free for 30 or 60 minutes.
      Housing – repurpose empty buildings (shops & offices) as flats – but this seems to generate “no more flats” vs. “build more housing” arguments – so they can’t win.
      London Road & the leisure centre – they’ve finally started, but all we do now is complain about a 2 year closure & bigger car park.
      I’m no fan of the public sector, but we need more people like Whelan to drive this town forward – or we’ll end up as an empty shell filled with vape & charity shops – with the Eye “celebrating” the next store closure.
      Rant over!

      • Goodness! The only thing I can agree with you on is the provision of more free, short term parking to attract people to “pop in to Camberley”. The idea that the CEO is doing such a great job that we need more like her is laughable.

  9. Have to say in reply to all of your posts ..Freddie Starr whoever you are? (and he was sad also and apparently ate a hamster for breakfast!). but Camberley is not a complete dump ….just on so many aspects … most of which are due to an inept CEO and council who have been in office for many many years…..BUT on the positive side..
    1. We have a fantastic U3A for the semi retired and retired …I defy anyone who cannot find a club/ activity to suit them

    2. High Cross Church…a very nice building inside and outside with 2 cafes run by lovely people…and it along with umpteen other venues house many meetings /clubs at very affordable costs …there are also lots of outside activities.
    Google Camberley U3A …there maybe something for you.

    3. The Vue..only £4.99 on Monday’s and £5.99 other days and have all of the latest films. They also have live screening events from Shakespeare to Ballet and Opera and Pop Concerts and many more events ..a bit more expensive of course for those events but a great night out.

    So Freddie , we all get old…and I am! But there is no need to be a sad man as well , even in Camberley . Time to Google now!

    • There are a lot more reasons than just the ones mentioned by Shirley Adams, and most of them are nothing to do with the council.

      • I’ve lived in Camberley for umpteen years, and if I really thought it was a dreadful place I should have moved away by now. Which isn’t to say that there are not plenty of opportunities for improvement.

  10. Interestingly and I would say allegedly but I know better, CEO asked for 1 million pounds to step down as CEO! Thankfully and sensibly it was refused!
    Hopefully sensibility will rule the investigation and the result will be, no coverups, and finally wipe this inept power crazy creature from the Borough! This Borough deserves far better than this!
    Staff that are quite obviously obfuscating the truth need to squeal a little louder!
    Better for you to come out now rather than later! You have been warned!

    • Just returned from a holiday.
      .Camberley Eye…who posted the purple blog on the 18th re million pound request… ? thought a name had to be posted alongside comments?…you have always been professional…….

      • ObviouslyI don’t always agree with what’s written, or how it’s written, Shirley. But it’s good for the soul to be reminded from time to time how other people see life. Also, I have more information about contributors’ identities than it might appear. If comments are too gratuitously unpleasant and the writer tries to hide their identity, I do delete their input.

  11. Thanks David…But was very shocked at that posting! I hope this saga does not last for 6 years , similar to another CEO saga that did….on another council ….on full pay for 6 years!

  12. Official Great News!
    Ding Dong The witch is dead! K. Whelan has resigned!
    It’s taken 3 long long years to work this magical moment, and now champagne all around!
    Let’s just hope she wasn’t given too much more council tax payers money, as she was never good value for the over inflated wage.
    Like to pay thanks to all those that contributed their fine efforts both within the council officers and members of the council. Cheers!

  13. Justice has finally been served. The Residents of Surrey Heath no longer have to worry about their Council Tax being used to fund Karen Whelan’s personal pocket. More importantly, the staff are free from this narcissistic tyrant. But what about her henchman ********. Does she think people don’t know about her involvement, how she aided Whelan’s abuse on the staff. Whelan couldn’t do these things on her own, ******** very much ‘did her dirty work’ in return for promotion. If you’re having a clear out Surrey Heath, not all the trash has been put out. Don’t let her slip away unseen, she’s very guilty.

  14. So what happens now? I welcome the fact that Karen Whelan has gone but I do think we are entitles to answers regarding the process that led to the salary increase and additional “performance pay” or whatever it was dressed up as. Without an account of how these decisions were made, and who was involved in making them, what are the chances of history repeating itself.

    • Absolutely and was not just about her….MG springs to mind and other Tory councillors elected by us ….the investigation has now concluded….but all councillors at the moment are indeed SILENT?. Even all of the Lib Dem’s who only recently got elected…I hope they are all watching and reading the EYE and have the guts to explain what really happened and who knew and indeed can explain to the rate payers of SHBC …eventually……….

      Keep safe and keep well all of you..More important issues to deal with now!

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