April 16, 2020 7:28 PM
By Julie Hoad


  • Massive Salary Increase for CEO

At the May 2019 Local Election, ten Liberal Democrats - an increase of nine - were elected to Surrey Heath Borough Council. Their leader, Cllr Sashi Mylvaganam, quickly established that in 2018/19 the Conservatives had increased the Borough's Chief Executive's salary by some 30%, to a reported £158,000.

The Tory led Council claimed that the reason behind the increase was the acquisition of the main shopping centre in Camberley which somehow increased the CEO's workload by 30%. They soon caved into public opinion, however, and in October 2019 reluctantly agreed to an independent enquiry into the matter.

At this point the Council CEO, Karen Whelan, went on a period of 'special leave' - the Council was at pains to deny that she had been suspended so presumably she was on full pay. She was never to return to the Council offices.

  • Leader & Deputy Leader Sudden Departure

The report from law firm Browne Jacobson was finalised in December 2019. A month later the Conservative Council Leader, Richard Brooks, and Deputy Leader Charlotte Morley, both resigned without explaining why. They also resigned from the Conservative Group on the Council and now sit as Independents, a change which resulted in the Council losing its Tory majority and moving into 'No Overall Control' status.

  • CEO Resigns

In early April 2020, six months after going on 'special leave' the CEO resigned to pursue 'new opportunities in the north of the country'. At the time of her resignation the Browne Jacobson report into the matter of her pay increase has not been made public, and any version which does emerge from the Council in the future is likely to be so heavily redacted as to be meaningless.

  • We Demand Clarity on Behalf Of Surrey Heath Residents

Surrey Heath Conservatives need to answer some important questions relating to this whole affair.

  1. Who knew of the Tory Leader at the time (Moira Gibson)'s decision, to grant the CEO a 30% pay increase which made her more highly paid than the Prime Minister?
  2. Her successor as Leader, Cllr Brooks, needs to come clean as to why he resigned, without giving a reason, about a month after the publication of the Browne Jacobson report.
  3. The current members of the Council's Executive - still an all-Conservative body - need to explain how much they knew of the CEO salary increase when it was granted by Moira Gibson. This is especially true of the THIRD Conservative Leader of the Council in the last fourteen months, Cllr Alan McClafferty, who needs to state clearly when he knew about the CEO receiving a 30% pay increase.
  4. The Conservative Group needs to explain why the CEO was effectively suspended on full pay at huge, wasted expense to Surrey Heath Council Taxpayers for six months - four of which were AFTER the publication of the Browne Jacobson report.
  1. Was the CEO paid money in lieu of notice when she resigned, and was she given any other sums of money as an inducement to resign or in compensation for loss of office?

The people of Surrey Heath are surely entitled to know exactly how much this Conservative debacle has cost and exactly which Tory Councillors knew about it at the time?

David Whitcroft - President, Surrey Heath Liberal Democrats

Lance Spencer - Chairman, Surrey Heath Liberal Democrats