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Departing chief in line for £470,000 package

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Bournemouth BC councillors will be asked on Tuesday to approve a package worth more than £470,000 for chief executive Jane Portman after she failed to secure the top post at the new Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch unitary council.

A report by leader John Beesley (Con) said Ms Portman (pictured) should receive £117,299 for redundancy, contractual notice pay, compensation for loss of office and statutory rights.

Bournemouth must also pay £355,621 in ‘pension strain’ to the Dorset County Local Government Pension Fund, since Ms Portman will be below normal retirement age when she leaves at the end of March. This payment is required under LGPS rules to compensate the pension fund for the fact that where an individual aged over 55 is made redundant they are entitled to receive their accrued pension in full, without an ‘actuarial reduction’ that would be made if someone was taking early retirement. It will not be taken as a lump sum.

The new shadow unitary has set aside an initial £1.5m to meet redundancy costs of tier one and two posts.

Cllr Beesley said: “I cannot thank Jane enough on behalf of the council for her strong insight and leadership during her time at Bournemouth Council. She has been instrumental in driving forward the business case for change and delivering the new Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council.

“Her reputation and years of exemplary work in areas where she was ultimately responsible for Bournemouth’s most vulnerable people has been outstanding. After so many years of excellent local government service, she will be greatly missed.”

Ms Portman had worked for Bournemouth for 12 years and Poole for four before that.

She lost out to HM Land Registry chief executive Graham Farrant for the chief’s role at the new unitary.

The pay-out to Ms Portman marks the second time in less than two years that Bournemouth has made a six-figure payment to a departing chief executive.

In 2017 it paid the late Tony Williams £394,000. Christchurch Conservative MP Christopher Chope said under parliamentary privilege that Mr Williams had been removed “because the chief executive questioned the council leader’s conflicts of interest with his businesses”.

A subsequent police investigation led to the Crown Prosecution Service concluding there was insufficient evidence for any charges.

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