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MYSTERIOUS EARLY RETIREMENT COSTS 375K

30-10-2008

The Stirrer can reveal that the unexplained early retirement of a senior Black Country council official will cost hard-pressed taxpayers more than £375,000.

Sandwell’s Executive Director of Urban Regeneration Steve Gregory has been given permission to quit his job at the age of 50 – just weeks after being suspended in mysterious circumstances (see link here).

It emerged at a meeting of the Leader’s Cabinet Advisory Team yesterday that Gregory’s settlement includes compensation equivalent to three months salary - £56,606.94 – plus £318,395 to top up his pension.

That’s 375,001.94 in total.

The news comes just days after a black hole of more than £2million was identified in Sandwell’s budget.

There’s no suggestion that Gregory has done anything illegal or improper. The issue is one of accountability and transparency.

Just why has a senior officer in the prime of his working life been allowed to leave with such a generous package? And why was he suspended in the first place?

Sadly, the Council isn’t saying.

Sandwell’s deputy leader Steve Eling admitted he doesn’t know the full circumstances relating to Gregory’s departure, but said: “I can state categorically that this has not been about fraud.

"If it had been, I would have had to be informed."

Conservative councillor Mary Docker who sits on the Cabinet Advisory Team said: “It’s just been presented as a fait accompli.

"We were told a confidential compromise agreement has been reached, but I want to know what's gone on. There's no information at all. It's a closed shop."

Quite.

The Stirrer simply believes – without prejudice - that the good people of Sandwell deserve to know why they are shelling out so handsomely for Steve Gregory’s handsome early retirement package.

Is that really too much to ask?

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