Thanet Star

Chief Executive Samuels to Pocket over 230,000

In a Thanet Star Exclusive we can reveal that Richard Samuels will Pocket over 230,000 on leaving Thanet District Council plus an inflated pension.

Richard Samuels will depart his post as Chief Executive of Thanet District Council in March with a "basic" redundancy payout of 200,000. This will not be the last we see of him as Richard Samuels will hang in as Chief Executive for a while longer to see through the local government elections and trouser a further 30,000 thank-you-very-much.

His replacement the Chief Executive Designate Sue McGonigal is currently not fit to play so Samuels has "kindly agreed" to stay on until May. If Sue's title sounds odd read on and you'll see why.

But that's not all the brucey bonus he'll be getting. According to a high ranking member of staff who was understandably cheesed off the Chief Executive was bumped up two further pay grades just before Christmas, in preparation for him leaving, so that he would get a higher rate of pension. Pension is based on final salary, you see.

I understand that this was rubber stamped by Chief Executive Designate Sue McGonigal.

When Tony of Big News Margate correctly surmised that the Chief Executive of Thanet District Council leaving for an undisclosed sum, ...could perhaps be decoded as Thanet council has offered an embarrassingly generous pay off, which of coarse will not be available to the lower orders he was right. And how!

Richard Samuels extra big golden handshake comes less than twelve months before he would be retired anyway. Of course if The Chief Executive made it to retirement then he'd not have access to a massive hand out for taking it a whole year early. I wish I could be paid 200,000 for not working and then do a few months work for 30,000 on top.

To be fair there is a valid excuse (isn't there always) for giving Samuels a nice retirement present. He is being made redundant due to the merging of the posts of Chief Executive, Chief Financial Officer and Electoral Registration Officer. As Richard Samuels lacks the required financial background they are able to make him redundant. It's water tight.

My person on the inside related a fairly unsurprising anecdote of typical sounding Council inefficiency. It seems that Richard Samuels is staying on because Sue McGonigal has just broken her leg while on holiday. Richard Samuels has valiantly offered to stay on for an extra two months "for the good of the council" and a payment of 30,000 while Sue recovers is recuperating.

On the same day that most council departments received "at risk of redundancy" letters, Richard Samuels demonstrated his value for money when he stood up in a Chief Executive's briefing (last week) and confessed that he "didn't know what was going on". Apparently Sue McGonigal had been dealing with the impending restructure and making notes and keeping people up to date does not seem to be a strong point for these guys.

However there are questions left unanswered regarding Samuels' rubber stamping buddy Sue McGonigal who has the unlikely title of Chief Executive Designate. I emailed some friends I know who work much, much lower down the food chain and asked them what a Chief Executive Designate is and if the huge payout was true (understandably no one wanted to talk about the money but they did answer question about waht this title means). The short story is that it is a tile made up especially for Sue because she can't have Richard Samuels' Chief Executive title while he still holds it. Also (hugely paraphrasing what I was told) Sue McGonigal has yet to be rubber stamped into the post by the Appointments Board (which I understand is made up of councilors including the Leader of the Council).

I asked my friends how one gets such a job and then after talking to my person with the inside intel I was able to put this story together: (Warning: this might leave you feeling cross if you were not already cross).

Two years ago the title of Deputy Chief Executive was put into tossed out. Then six months ago the title was dusted off and given to Sue McGonigal. From Chief Financial Officer into a dead post and then into "Designate" with the deputy post mysteriously disappearing back into the mists.

From what I can tell from my sources this obvious playing of favorites has upset a lot of people at all levels (which is why my high up person was so talkative I imagine). It also appears to me to have enabled Sue McGonigal to set some pretty impressive presidents for the post she is about to take and rubber stamped Richard Samuels out of the door with 230,000 in his pocket.

This does not tell me how someone who works so closely to Richard Samuels was allowed to promote him (twice) up the pay scale.

This does not explain how Richard Samuels gets such a big payout given his remaining working life. I'm sure no one here believes that 200,000 per remaining year is a standard going away gift. That's more than 10 years wages for many of us.

The 30,000 Richard Samuels is getting for two months work is more than many of us get for a year. I'm sure we all wish we were on 15,000 a month (160,000 a year) standard pay.

The thing that really hurts is that this our money they are giving him.

Please note I have no intention of naming the people I interviewed for this and especially not the person who gave me the more scandalous details.

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Public Comments

This Normal comment was left by -dave [score: 0]:

Your article raises 2 issues here Matt. After Samuals has left there must be in place a structure that allows for another person to stand in when the new chief exec is away for office for what ever reason. So from March this is the procedure that should be used if she is not fit to return to office, thus saving 30,000.
Point two is that the payoff and change of pay grades just before he is made redundant and would have retire anyway is not vslue for money and the Audit Commission must investigate. TDC and councillors are under an obligation and duty to protect taxpayer's money. It would have been cheaper to pay him until he was 60 even if he worked part time.
03/02/2011 10:09:29

This Normal comment was left by Matt B [score: 0]:

Two very good points -dave. I was brassed off when I found out and I imagine others will be too. That's taxes we can ill afford to have spent like that. As it is TDC needs to pull a magic rabbit out of the hat in the next two years in terms of jobs and I'd have liked to have seen that money spent starting three or four new businesses.
03/02/2011 13:03:31

This Normal comment was left by Peter Checksfield [score: 0]:

I don't really think it's TDC's job to start businesses, but they could've at least used this to save Margate Caves & reopened a few loos!
03/02/2011 14:41:13

This Normal comment was left by Marty [score: 0]:

Well I'm sure Mr Samuels is a philanthropist and is prepared to donate some of his hard earned income to some worthy cause such as helping some of the more vulnerable in society to gain confidence to get on the employment ladder, thereby allowing them to pay some taxes and contribute to the local economy that in some way pays for future Chief Executives to earning nice high salaries and golden handshakes. (punctuation missing deliberately)......... Can you catch your breath now?
03/02/2011 16:56:20

This Normal comment was left by Matt B [score: 0]:

While it is not normally a local council's job to start businesses it would be a way for them to start into the 4,000 unemployed we already have plus the goodness knows how many after Pfizer goes.

I wonder if Mr S will donate something. Perhaps he'd like to sponsor Thanet Star so that I can report such things full time?
03/02/2011 19:27:55

This Normal comment was left by Peter Checksfield [score: 0]:

Matt, I have to ask: why do you need sponsoring just to run a blog? Everyone else in Thanet manages to do there's for free via Blogger.
03/02/2011 21:59:03

This Normal comment was left by Matt B [score: 0]:

OT: Because I choose to run mine on a server and through contract with a third party also control the domain name as the ISP level which means that nothing short of outright aggression in the form of a DDoS attack on a large data centre can take my blog off line. Blogger have been known to dump users that irritate governments enough for just a little letter writing and I do not wish to fear anyone at any level should the truth need to be told.

Thanet star (and one other blog) get massive spikes in traffic that would shut down cheaper hosting.

And to be fair I feel that's a bit like saying why do you need expensive film when a cheap mobile phone has a camera. As an artist you choose the best tools for the job and rightly so.
04/02/2011 00:29:44

This Normal comment was left by Ewen Cameron [score: 0]:

Matt, what a load of b*llocks. As as former district concillor (bradstowe) I have dealt with Richard Samuel on numerous occasions, and always found him polite and akilled. I also sat on a committee attended by Sue McGonigall and found her skilled, articulate and extremely well informed

Spending cuts of 20% have to be dealt with, and you choose the best paople. I agree that Mr Samuels was overpaid, but he did a good job. I hope Ms. McGongigall will carry on.

I have confidence in her.
10/02/2011 13:10:12

This Normal comment was left by Pinnochio [score: 0]:

Well I feel very aggrieved. As formner Head of Tourishm and Leshar I only copped fifty grand and a twenty five grand per year penshun. Yeah I know I was a gobby member of 6th Fannit Guin Range innit and there was some bovver wiv a loadawork wot had no planning permshun. I dunno how much the planning officer wot left the same time as me scored in sevrants and penshun like (rand abaht wen Richard Samuels first arrived and played up abaht a standards meeting that did not see the evidence, tried to tell him standard form for the council here, I knew he would get the hang of it and cop a biggie in the fullness of time hisself)
10/02/2011 21:25:11

This Normal comment was left by Matt B [score: 0]:

I have no doubt that the man is qualified for the job he did. Also I'd like everyone else to have no doubt that he must be paid in accordance with his contract. However the terms of the contract and the activities used to leverage it require comment.
14/02/2011 01:01:36

This Normal comment was left by Tara [score: 0]:

Matt - whoever claims to be the reliable source for your info on R Samuel's payoff is an idiot! The finances are all wrong. Did I see that you had said it was a senior member of staff? I'd be more worried about what they were getting paid - they are disloyal, badly informed and have their sums all wrong. Ask them if they know what the Actuarial Strain calculation is?
14/02/2011 18:50:39

This Normal comment was left by Matt B [score: 0]:

Tara, why don't you provide the actual figures then?
15/02/2011 00:23:06

This Normal comment was left by Tara [score: 0]:

I don't have enough information to give you accurate figures and wouldn't want to promote speculation, but the true cost of any redundancy - voluntary or otherwise - includes a payment to the pension scheme to compensate for what Samuels would have paid in had he stayed. Decisions to let people go take into account all these costs - so that's what goes into the report. It doesn't represent what the person going actually receives. Councils then look at the savings return on this cost and this will include savings such as travel, office support and a number of other things. What we need to understand is whether executive pay and conditions (including redundancy packages and pensions) is appropriate and this problem is wider than just Thanet. Why should the Chief Exec for Thanet get less than Canterbury, for example, when Thanet has such important issues to address?
15/02/2011 07:31:53
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