Pay-off means Leicester crisis report will be shelved

12th August 2005 at 01:00
A report detailing why a local authority lost millions in a review meant to save money has been shelved after the director of education agreed to a severance.

Steven Andrews, Leicester's director of education, is understood to have agreed to a pound;129,000 pay-off in pension contributions as part of a package under which no further action would be taken.

Had a disciplinary hearing gone ahead, FE Focus was told, the council could have faced a pound;300,000 payout to Mr. Andrews under the terms of his contract.

The decision means that a full report by independent auditors into what went wrong will not now be published.

Mr Andrews was suspended earlier this year when an investigation was ordered into why a review of lifelong learning - aimed at saving pound;500,000 - actually ended up pound;3.5 million in deficit.

A second officer - who has never been officially identified and who was suspended at the same time as Mr Andrews - is to leave the council. He is believed to be John Crookes, head of Leicester's lifelong learning programme.

The multi-million-pound black hole triggered allegations that officers had failed to keep key councillors informed. When it was realised that Mr Andrew's contract might mean a pound;300,000 payout, there were behind-the-scenes negotiations to reach a deal. Mr Andrews took up his pound;110,000-plus-a-year post five years ago.

The council gave their suspended chief a deadline of last Wednesday to accept the pound;100,000-plus deal, or it would start disciplinary proceedings against him. The result was only made public this week, without the authority confirming severance details.

In a statement, Leicester's Town Clerk, Tom Stephenson, confirmed there would be no further action against the two officers. He said: "I have no doubt that the right management action has been taken and that, in the circumstances, this outcome is the best for council taxpayers and for the individuals concerned.

"The council's director of education, Steven Andrews, will leave the authority as planned, when his fixed-term contract expires at the end of September. The other officer will leave at the end of a current long-term secondment with another public body."

Both officers, he said, had "given good service to the council."

The council says that it has "agreed a recovery plan" to balance the lifelong learning budget but has not given details.

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