A Government minister has spoken out after it emerged the former chief executive of Derbyshire County Council (DCC) received a “golden goodbye” of £219,000 when he left the authority.
Eric Pickles, secretary of state for communities and local Government, blasted the payout awarded to Nick Hodgson upon his departure from the council in June 2013.
The details of Mr Hodgson’s severance package were finally revealed in the authority’s annual accounts last Friday.
Mr Pickles said: “It is hard to take Labour in Derbyshire seriously when they complain about making savings when they spend nearly a quarter of a million pounds on a golden goodbye.
“I started my political career as a councillor so I know the importance of value for money in local Government.”
Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, added: “Derbyshire residents will be astounded by the huge scale of the payout.
“It is especially galling at a time when frontline services are trying to find long-overdue savings.
“The size of the payout is totally inappropriate and shows a complete disconnect between the political class and the people they represent.”
Mr Hodgson was chief executive for 16 years.
DCC leader Councillor Anne Western said: “Mr Hodgson’s work helped the county achieve a great deal and we thank him for his committed service.”
She added it was now vital that the authority continued to focus on the challenges ahead in light of “unprecedented” Government cuts.
Three months after Mr Hodgson left the council amid mysterious circumstances, the Derbyshire Times submitted a Freedom of Information request to the authority about why he exited his £152,000 role and details of any payout to him upon his departure.
But the council controversially failed to answer our questions, saying Mr Hodgson had entered into an agreement which meant the terms of his exit would “remain confidential”.
Mr Pickles said: “I have been speaking to Lee Rowley, the Conservative candidate for North East Derbyshire, about worries over the lack of transparency from Labour at DCC.
“I share Lee’s concerns – it is absolutely unacceptable that the ruling-Labour group at Matlock took so long to publish this figure.”
Cllr Western said: “It was always understood that the figure paid to Mr Hodgson would be published in the annual accounts.”
However, it is still not clear exactly why Mr Hodgson left the authority.