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Liverpool in severance talks

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Harborow payoff threatens to overshadow culture status

Liverpool City Council is locked in talks to agree a quarter of a million pound severance package with Liverpool Culture Company chief executive Jason Harborow.

Mr Harborow, also the council’s executive director of culture, media and sport, spent much of the second half of 2007 on a prolonged period of sick leave after a reported dispute with leader Warren Bradley (Lib Dem). He is expected to officially leave “within weeks”.

A council spokesman said: “[Mr Harborow] is in negotiations with the city council to agree a severance package. He is leaving, but he has not left yet.” LGC understands the council has authorised a£250,000 package.

The news is the latest revelation concerning Cllr Bradley that threatens to overshadow the start of the city’s Capital of Culture celebrations.

He is being investigated by the Standards Board for England (SBE) for bringing his office into disrepute and breaching equality legislation after being reported for conspiring against Mr Harborow. His predecessor as council leader Mike Storey (Lib Dem), who is now executive member for regeneration, is also being investigated for breaching equality legislation.

The Liverpool Culture Company is responsible for a year-long programme of cultural events starting next weekend.

Last year the council dismissed reports that it planned to dismantle the firm following political skirmishes after the Mathew Street Music Festival was controversially downgraded (LGC, 27 September 2007).

The SBE confirmed it is investigating cllrs Bradley and Storey following allegations by Labour group leader Joe Anderson including that the former made Mr Harborow’s position “untenable”. It said a decision would ‘take months’.

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