Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Secrecy shrouds Newcastle severance

  • Comment
Labour MP Jim Cousins has slammed Newcastle City Council for refusing to release details of former chief executive Ian Stratford’s severance package.

Mr Stratford stepped down from the position he has held for six years with immediate effect last week. Val Dodds, the council’s head of legal services, wrote a letter to officers and councillors warning them not to discuss details of Mr Stratford’s severance package.

Council leader John Shipley (Lib Dem) was last month at the forefront of a campaign to have details of the severance package paid to John Parkin, the former chief executive of the local authority-owned Newcastle Airport, made public. Newcastle Central MP Mr Cousins accused him of “complete hypocrisy”.

“The city council leader was very unhappy he wasn’t told [the details of Mr Parkin’s pay off] but at the same time he has struck a secrecy agreement with his own chief executive who he has plainly fired,” he claimed.

Although no official reason has been given for Mr Stratford’s departure, it comes in the wake of a damning report on the council’s local development framework which has now been withdrawn. Government-appointed planning inspector Anthony Thickett said he had “serious reservations regarding the soundness of the plan”, in particular relating to housing.

A corporate assessment by the Audit Commission found Newcastle’s ambitions would prove difficult to achieve “without improvements in the consistency and coherence of corporate management”.

Meanwhile, an Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development report found the city showed “limited prosperity and growth in gross value added, productivity and employment” compared to the rest of the UK.

Mr Cousins claimed Mr Stratford’s performance was “just not good enough”.

“I think Mr Stratford has shown very weak leadership,” he said. “I have been very concerned about the creation of a bureaucratic culture that relies heavily on the employment of consultants and still fails to deliver on significant issues.”

In a statement, Cllr Shipley said: “I believe the council has made significant progress over recent years and I recognise fully the part Ian has played in leading our officer team.”

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.