A chief executive forced out of a city council was handed a £215,000 goodbye, it has finally emerged.
Newcastle Council’s accounts have revealed details of a pay-off to Barry Rowland which city leaders kept secret for 10 months.
Mr Rowland, who quickly found work as a senior director at Northumberland County Council, left his city post last August after a very public falling out with council leader Nick Forbes.
A independent review into relationships between the two men in the run-up to the sacking said city officials needed to do a better job of showing they are following their new orders.
The Local Government Association was called in to carry out a review of the first 10 months of Labour’s new administration.
Its report made clear there was a risk that Mr Forbes’s direct style “out-paces the ability of the organisation to respond” and adds this would mean “frustration ensues”.
The cost of acting on that report is now revealed as the city prepares its annual accounts, with Mr Rowland receiving £215,331 compensation. City officials say they could not have revealed the details of the pay-off due to a controversial confidentiality agreement reached with the former chief executive. The council brought in independent experts to help set the goodbye package.
Last night opposition group leader Anita Lower said there would be many who thought Mr Rowland deserved his severance pay.
The Liberal Democrat councillor said: “I think you have to take into account how he lost his job when you consider this, and that it was agreed by an outside body.
“The council leadership took the decision they wanted rid of him so they had to pay out something, it’s maybe a decent amount.”
A council spokesman said: “Barry Rowland left the city council by mutual agreement in August of last year. A compromise agreement remains confidential and we are not permitted for legal reasons to discuss the terms of any part of it.
“The council’s negotiations were conducted on its behalf by the Local Government Association (LGA) who are vastly experienced in handling such matters and are familiar with the terms of settlements reached in comparable cases.
“They considered that the terms of the settlement were reasonable, consistent with the council’s procedures, and in line with what they were seeing with similar large authorities.
“An audit commission report By Mutual Agreement published in 2010 included a survey of settlements for chief executives which showed an average settlement cost of £309,167 for single tier and county councils – our settlement with Mr Rowland at £215,331 was significantly lower than this average.
“The council was always mindful of the cost to the taxpayer and has sought to keep costs to an absolute minimum at every stage in the negotiation.
“To reduce the gap between the highest and lowest paid in the authority, the new chief executive’s salary was reduced by more than 10% – bringing it down to £150,000.”
Mr Rowland was not available for comment yesterday.