Leeds City Council's £346,000 golden goodbyes

Senior managers in charge of Leeds's under-fire children's services received almost £350,000 in "golden goodbye" payments, the YEP can reveal.

Four bosses either quit or took early retirement in the wake of a damning report into the beleaguered city council department.

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Between them they pocketed 346,000. Two received severance pay – payments negotiated for leaving voluntarily – and another two were allowed to take substantial advance lump sums from their pensions.

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One of them was children's services director Rosemary Archer who, it was agreed, could take her civil service pension early.

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It is not known exactly how much she received, but she is thought to be on a pension linked to her final salary which was between 122,133 and 146,237 a year.

As reported in the YEP the council is paying an interim children's services director about 1,000 a day.

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Eleanor Brazil started the job earlier this month (mch). She will continue in post until a permanent director is appointed later in the year.

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Today, Coun Lisa Mulherin, shadow spokesperson for children's services condemned the payouts.

She said: "This is yet another example of taxpayers in Leeds being forced to foot the bill for this council's incompetence.

"The 346,000 paid out to senior managers who used to be in charge of children's services could have been better used improving front line services."

Coun Mulherin (Lab, Ardsley and Robin Hood) added: "We have repeatedly said that the safety of children should be the top priority for this Council. Had council leaders listened to our concerns earlier we would

not have wasted money which could have kept children safe."

Ms Archer, who was appointed director of children's services in 2006, left the council at the end of last year following a report by OFSTED inspectors which condemned her department as "poor" and with "serious weaknesses".

The watchdog had carried out an unannounced inspection in the summer and found that vulnerable children had been placed at risk of abuse and neglect because of council failings.

At around the same time, a separate serious case review, following the rape and murder of Gipton toddler Casey Mullen, found the authority failed to carry out an assessment that could have prevented her death.

In December, another OFSTED report said Leeds was still performing poorly and not meeting minimum standards.

And a joint report with the Care Quality Commission in January said although improvements were underway, efforts to safeguard children were still "inadequate".

The council is this week expected to be served with a formal notice to improve by Minister for Children, Young People and Families, Dawn Primarolo.

A spokesman for Leeds City Council said: "We simply cannot comment on individual cases."

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