SKDC finance chief leaves "in a hurry" with £141,000 pay-off.
A top finance chief left South Kesteven District Council “in a hurry” with a pay-off of £141,000, it has emerged.
The revelation came during a lively debate at full council when it also emerged his successor was recruited without undergoing an ‘open’ recruitment process.
Deepings Independent councillor Ashley Baxter has claimed “at least” ten senior council vacancies have been recruited this way.
It led Deepings Labour councillor Phil Dilks to request a review of recruitment processes at the meeting.
Opposition councillors stressed they had no issue with the officers recruited, just the process of how this was done.
Earlier, council leader Matthew Lee welcomed the council’s appointment of Debbie Muddimer as chief finance officer to the council on a permanent basis from July 26. Mrs Muddimer had previously been recruited to the same role on an interim basis on November 23 last year and also Director of Resources at SKDC on June 4.
SKDC chief executive Aidan Rave has defended the recruitment process saying ‘headhunting reduces the risk of making bad choices’.
Coun Lee said: “She decided this was a wonderful place to work.”
Deputy leader Kelham Cooke said: “She’s really hit the ground running.”
Coun Dilks also praised the new officer but said he had earlier raised concerns about making her appointment full time.
He said: “It has nothing to do with the person, but purely about the way the council is appointing its senior officers.
“Democracy has to be done and has to be seen to be done. What would other people think of this and other appointments. There was no advert, the job was not advertised, there was no interview.
“We have had officers who have served here many years and have done a great job. I appreciate we have just about cleared out the senior officers. The process we are going through is very demoralising for staff.”
Coun Baxter said: “This appointment followed the demise of a previous finance officer who left in a hurry and was allegedly paid more than £100,000 in the process of leaving. The new one was appointed in a hurry. We realised we had made a mistake. There was no advertising. No respect to our own recruitment processes.
“Debbie seems a nice person, knows her stuff, I have no problem with the person (but) I believe the appointment contravenes the equal Opportunities Act and Local Government Act.”
Moments later, Mr Dilks said the departing former officer was not paid £100,000, but £141,000.
SKDC chief executive Aidan Rave said: “This was part of a settlement agreement.”
Mr Dilks then said the figure was reported in council white papers (meaning it is public).
Coun Lee said he accepted Mr Dilks had earlier expressed ‘concerns’ but said he moved the appointment of Mrs Muddimer at Employment Committee on advice from chief executive Aidan Rave.
“If the opposition had asked us to advertise, we would have. We do have two jobs for senior officers, they will go out for adverts.”
Ruling Conservatives then voted to support the appointment of Mrs Muddimer, with opposition councillors either abstaining or voting against.
Mr Dilks said : “May I request an open and accountable and democratic review of this council’s recruitment procedures.”
Mr Lee said he created an appointments panel, which includes opposition leaders, to achieve that.