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Departing West Sussex council chief given six figure payoff
A West Sussex council chief is to be given a six figure pay off as a local authority plans to save £140 million.
As it looks to balance the books in the face of government cuts, West Sussex County Council will scrap its chief executive post.
It means its current CEO Kieran Stigant, who has worked for the local authority for 22 years, will leave on January 31.
Following the shock announcement, town hall leaders said the change was needed to “meet the new challenges facing the authority”.
But union representatives called on politicians to listen to staff concerns about the “commissioning approach” before it made £140 million of savings over the next four years.
In a letter to staff, council leader Lousie Goldsmith said: “This might come as a surprise to many of you.
“Kieran has been a committed, diligent and loyal chief officer and I have been very grateful for his support and counsel.”
Coun Goldsmith added she was “indebted” to Mr Stigant for helping it make £79 million of savings in the last three years.
However, the Tory politician said she felt the local authority needed “a new kind of leadership” for the coming years.
It comes as the council looks to adopt a “commissioning approach” which many fear will mean pushing services out to the private and third sector to save money.
A council spokesman confirmed Mr Stigant, who was earning a salary of £175,000 as CEO, will receive at least £118,000 as a payoff.
Councillors are set to confirm the deletion of the chief executive post at a meeting on February 14.
In its place, two interim directors - a chief operating officer appointed internally and an interim “transformation director” - will be appointed.
A spokesman said the changes were estimated to save the council £25,000 a year with further savings expected as a result of the leadership structure review.
Dan Sartin, branch secretary at Unison West Sussex, said: “Kieran's departure will be seen as a sad loss by staff. He was trusted and respected, and for good reason. He is an honest local man doing a tough job for West Sussex.
“The 'commissioning' agenda of the cabinet is not popular with staff and whoever takes over the leadership role will struggle to sell it to them.
“They will have other huge challenges too - not least to deal with the consequences of the current policy of the council to make the cuts £29 million worse than they need be by freezing council tax.”
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