13.03.19

‘Damning’ auditor’s report published on Bristol Council’s £100k pay-out to ex-chief executive

A “damning” auditor’s report into a £100,000 pay-off made by Bristol City Council to its former chief executive has been released.

Bristol mayor Marvin Rees insisted that ex-chief executive Anna Klonowski was entitled to the £98,000 pay-out but the report said it was “inappropriate” for the authority to say the money was contractual.

The report from the council’s external auditor, BDO, comes after it was revealed that Klonowski received the £98,000 “loss of office” payment after her exit in September 2017 which the council did not legally have to pay.

The auditor’s review found that approval for the payment was not sought from the Labour-run council’s Human Resources Committee and highlighted the “key issue” of transparency.

It said that despite recommendations made following a £200,000 pay-out to the former city director Nicola Yates in 2016, the issue “remains unaddressed.”

An “apparent inconsistency” between council pay policy and the terms of reference of the HR Committee meant that the auditors could not “state definitively” that the council had followed the wrong process.

The report recommended that the council draft a policy and guidance for severance packages, and Lib Dem councillor Gary Hopkins described the report as “damning.”

Conservative councillor Richard Eddy said the auditor’s findings “confirm that our original grave concerns about the propriety of making this huge pay-off were well-founded and completely justified.”

A spokesperson for the council said it had received the report and that it would be considered by councillors at the next full council meeting on 19 March.

“We will provide a formal response to the report later this week, the contents of which will be considered by the same meeting of Full Council.”

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