AN ‘OBSCENE’ £95,000 payment to allow the county council’s chief executive to retire early on a full pension has been blasted by the opposition group.
Trish Haines announced her retirement on Monday (November 10) but the following day it was revealed the contribution had been made to top up her pension scheme, which would not have automatically been paid in full due to her decision to retire 18 months early.
Having worked for the authority for six years, Mrs Haines is set to leave her £176,678 a year post next spring.
Coun Peter McDonald, leader of the county’s Labour group, said: “The council cannot justify such payments in times of austerity and cutbacks, this is just not acceptable. If the chief executive wants to retire, it should be at her own cost not the council’s.”
He added it showed ‘double standards’ as it was happening at a time of potential cuts to services and cost-cutting which had already seen hundreds of job losses with more to come. The council is currently trying to find an extra £98 million by 2017.
During Mrs Haines’ time at the council, she has overseen school results improve for five years running, children’s homes rated as excellent and the council named by The Times as the sixth best nationally for road conditions.
She said: “”I am particularly proud despite very challenging financial circumstances, the council has improved the services residents said were most important to them.
“This has been a fantastic final chapter of my career and one I will look back on with fondness.”
But it has not all been plain sailing for Mrs Haines who last year admitted she felt ‘personally responsible’ after allegations were made the council had failed a 19-year-old woman assaulted by former council leader George Lord.
He was later jailed for four years for the attack and for indecently assaulting a 14-year-old girl in the 1970s.
She also came under fire in 2010 for refusing to take a pay cut after a call from communities and local government secretary Eric Pickles for all those earning more than the Prime Minister to reduce their salary.
Kenny Brown, head of human resources, said: “As is normal, a sum will be paid by Worcestershire County Council into the Worcestershire Pension Fund as an accounting transaction to compensate for the cost of early retirement. In this case the sum is £95,000.”