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Northamptonshire County Council: Auditor to review chief exec's pay-off

Paul Blantern
Image caption Paul Blantern resigned from his role in October after 10 years with Northamptonshire County Council

A cash-strapped council may not have provided "value for money" with an exit package given to its former chief executive, according to an auditor.

Dr Paul Blantern received a £95,000 pay-off after quitting Northamptonshire County Council in October 2017.

Auditor KPMG said it would now be reviewing the "circumstances surrounding his departure" and "any payments" made to him.

A council spokesman said the authority was considering KPMG's comments.

In a report to the council's audit committee, the auditor said there was a "risk that the terms and conditions of the departure [of Dr Blantern], including any exit package, did not provide value for money".

It added any review of his departure will need to "ensure effective arrangements were in place to achieve value for money".

The auditor also questioned the manner of the appointment of Damon Lawrenson, who took over from Dr Blantern in an interim role, but has since also left the authority.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Auditor KMPG said

The report said KPMG would "review the process put in place… to ensure that statutory roles were appropriately filled".

It added exit packages for other staff leaving the council in the last year would also be reviewed.

Earlier this month, a government report said the council should be scrapped and be replaced with two new unitary authorities for the county by 2020.

Secretary of State for local government, Sajid Javid, has since said he is minded to send commissioners into the authority.

Prior to the report, the county council had been forced to ban almost all new spending for 2017/18 and agreed to make £40m worth of cuts in 2018/19.

Last year, a Freedom of Information request from the BBC found the £95,000 payment to Dr Blantern was made in addition to his contracted salary and terms.

The council said it would "determine whether any actions are required in due course".

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