Boss's huge salary 'not unlawful'

PUBLISHED: 14:52 13 May 2008 | UPDATED: 20:23 05 July 2010

The appointment of Suffolk's new chief executive on a £220,000 salary was based on inadequate information but not unlawful, an independent report has shown.

The appointment of Suffolk's new chief executive on a £220,000 salary was based on inadequate information but not unlawful, an independent report has shown.

Opposition members at Suffolk County Council called for a review into the appointment and salary of Andrea Hill as the council's chief executive when she was officially appointed in April, claiming that the council had not followed the proper procedures. But now an independent report from the district auditor has concluded that no rules have been broken.

The report, which will be discussed by the council's audit committee next Tuesday, said the council failed to provide all the relevant information to the appointments committee when the decision was made to raise the advertised maximum salary from £176,000 to £220,000.

The report said: “It is arguable that the decision to increase the salary range was based on inadequate information and relevant information was not made available to the committee and, therefore, was potentially unlawful.”

It continued: “The potential higher salary and other relevant implic-ations were not evaluated to dem-onstrate that a permanent appointment remained the most appropriate solution… the council cannot demonstrate that value for money was given sufficient consideration.”

But the auditor concluded that even with more information, the decision to increase the salary was unlikely to have been any different because such a level of pay was needed to secure a top-quality candidate.

Labour group leader Julian Swainson said: “This damning report shows that Labour councillors were right to raise the issue with the district auditor. Clearly the appointment process was flawed, as we said.”

Council leader Jeremy Pembroke said: “We have always maintained that the process was robust and thorough, and I am delighted that this has been confirmed.”

Jane Storey, the council's portfolio holder for resource management and transformation, said: “While the author recommends some improvements, his conclusion that 'the council had had a robust and thorough selection process in place to meet its stated objective of securing the best candidate for the chief executive post' and his comments on the salary level confirm that the process was properly run.”

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