WIRRAL Council’s suspended director of law Bill Norman is to leave the authority with a pay off totalling £150,000.
Bill Norman had been told to go home and await the outcome of an investigation amid a damning report by a council watchdog over a multi-million pound highways contract.
He, along with former acting chief executive Ian Coleman and acting head of finance David Taylor-Smith, were suspended in July and the authority released a statement saying all three had “statutory and line management responsibilities for the corporate governance functions where failings were identified”. The investigation has now found Mr Norman had no case to answer.
The director of technical services David Green had been suspended earlier in the year while the investigation continued. He and David Taylor-Smith remain suspended.
Also leaving the authority is the head of Wirral’s internal audit section, David Garry – at a cost of £46,584, including a £35,256 severance payment.
This opens the way for Wirral to share internal audit with Liverpool City Council, and Wirral Council’s chief executive Graham Burgess confirmed talks are at “an advanced stage”.
He said Wirral Council is also looking at further options to share further services with neighbouring authorities and added: “We are looking at everything.”
The move comes as the council is attempting to reinvent itself following a series of damning reports which criticised the way it has been run and managed in recent years, and against a massive budget deficit.
Mr Burgess was brought in to turn the authority around and has initiated a massive restructure of senior management which he says will make significant savings.
Following the investigation by external investigator Richard Penn, Ian Coleman left earlier this month with a payment to his pension of £82,500 after councillors were told a legal dispute could cost more than £1m.
The council has now confirmed Mr Norman will also be leaving, with a termination payment of £122,848, redundancy of £28,566 and legal costs.
Mr Burgess said the council had not included confidentiality clauses in the compromise contracts with the officers and insisted the decision to allow them to leave would save Wirral around £350,000 a year, making it a cost-effective move for the authority.
He said the council’s investigation and disciplinary committee found Mr Norman had no case to answer and should be allowed to return to work, but while he was suspended the authority began its management restructure and “against that background Mr Norman indicated a wish to leave”.