The chief executive of Kingston Council will receive more than a quarter-of-a-million-pounds after being ‘asked to resign’, the Surrey Comet can reveal.

Surrey Comet:

In 2012 then council leader Derek Osbourne, left, signed off a £128,00 payoff deal for former director of children’s services Duncan Clark, centre, who resigned days before a damning child protection report was made public. Chief executive Bruce McDonald, right, rubber-stamped the pay-off. 

The surrey Comet mocked up this panto/inspired front page picture

​Bruce McDonald, who had been chief executive for 15 years, was "asked to leave" by council leader Kevin Davis according to Liberal Democrat councillors.

Mr McDonald’s resignation was announced on November 27. 

He was gone the same day.

Mr McDonald will receive a £267,512 lump sum pay-out, which includes his notice period pay, plus his pension, equivalent to half his £178,341 annual salary.

As part of the settlement Mr McDonald has signed a non-disclosure agreement - meaning he cannot talk to the press about his reasons for leaving.

Kingston Liberal Democrat leader Liz Green said: "If he resigned, why is there a pay out?

"I am not necessarily surprised about the amount because I know how much these things can cost.

"But this is an awful lot of money, especially when the council are making the cuts they are.

"Kevin [Davis] has told me he requested that [Bruce] leave and there was an agreement.”

Coun Davis denied there had been any falling out between Mr McDonald and himself and claimed any apparent secrecy was simply due to a non-disclosure agreement he is bound by.

He said: "That is rubbish [that we have fallen out]. I have known Bruce for many years. I cannot say much because I am legally bound.

"What I wanted was to get everything I absolutely could into the public domain, which is why we have released the figures.

"In January we will be starting a recruitment process [for the chief executive job] then it will become clearer.

"The recruitment process will also start at the same time the budget comes out.”

Coun Green was not the only person to question Mr McDonald’s large pay out, which seems to be in contradiction to previous Conservative ideals.

In 2012 then Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said senior council executives should not be entitled to "golden goodbyes".

He unveiled new powers to remove employment protection for senior civil servants which would supposedly put an end to council executives receiving six-figure payoffs and then moving into new public sector jobs.

In July redundancy payments for civil servants were capped at £95,000. Mr McDonald resigned from his post.

Kingston’s Labour party chairman Laurie South said: "Good God. It is just ridiculous. You don’t pay people off to resign. You don’t get that to leave voluntarily.

“For goodness sake let’s have some transparency.”

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, who lives in Kingston, said: "This is an extraordinary sum of taxpayers' money for yet another bloated public sector golden goodbye.

"On top of massive salaries, the top brass at local authorities can expect to see redundancy or resignation packages that are far more generous than many workers in the private sector can ever expect to receive.

"Taxpayers don't want to see their hard-earned cash funding executive pay-offs at a time when they are seeing their essential services come under threat.”

Duncan Clark, former director of Kingston children’s services, was paid £128,000 after his resignation in July 2012 - just days before a damning child protection report was made public.

Mr McDonald, who started as an officer at Kingston Council in 1980, said in a statement released by the council on November 27: "It’s never going to be easy to leave a job I love, but it is time to go.

"Kingston is a brilliant place and I have been privileged to work with dedicated and innovative colleagues, committed members and collaborative partners.”

Bruce McDonald's full goodbye email to Kingston Council staff: 

It’s never going to be easy to leave a job I love but it is time to go.

Kingston is a brilliant place and I have been privileged to work with dedicated and innovative colleagues, committed members and collaborative partners. I have huge pride in what has been achieved in Kingston over my 35 years here, particularly in the more than 15 years I have been chief executive.

When I arrived in Kingston as a personnel officer in 1980, our population was 132,000 and the council had around 6,500 employees. The polytechnic and Kingston College were both part of the Council.  About the only thing that we knew we were good at in those days was collecting the rates. We were a provider council - if it needed doing, we did it.

Interestingly in a time when we talk of growth, until the late ‘80s our population was falling.  When I became director of personnel in 1991 things began to take off. Some of the challenges we faced then are now shrouded in the mists of time- compulsory competitive tendering and the internal market for instance. It was then that the fundamental shifts in Public Policy began; the drive towards autonomous institutions, the change from provision to a mixed market in which commissioning became increasingly important and our emerging role as a Community Leader, rather than the provider of everything was established. If it needed doing - we made sure it got done.

We had some tough decisions to make including externalising our direct services organisation. That led me to having to face an employment tribunal claim from two of our staff who didn't like what was happening - saying that I was transferring them into slavery which William Wilberforce had abolished in 1833.

We began to acquire a reputation for innovation. I am particularly proud of the work that we did on work/life balance during the 90s and the report we published on flexible employment in small and medium sized enterprises which attracted national attention including my appearance on BBC Breakfast time and we also featured in The Times, on the Today show and Radio 5.

We developed a liking for being at the leading edge and confident in our capability to innovate and to implement solutions rooted in our community. In 1994 we abolished the old committee structure and introduced a new neighbourhood system in fourteen days. Few places would have had the confidence to do that.

From 1998 we faced a period of no overall control and I was ‘acting up’ as chief executive. We were one of the first places to implement modernised political management. We were the first place in the country to have a business improvement district. That was a huge step as it required our businesses to be the first to vote to pay additional tax- but they did because we explained the case well and built support.

It was these capabilities that led us in 2002, with a corporate assessment a few days after a new administration came into power, to be one of the first 22 excellent councils.  The celebratory breakfast at Downing Street lives in my memory particularly when I found myself as the only person in the room with John Prescott and answered his question of ‘ Who are you?’ with ‘I am Bruce from leafy Kingston, John’ which led to a robust and convivial conversation.

The qualities we displayed then continue to serve us well: a clear vision, well communicated and shared by members, staff and partners, an open and honest focus on performance and an unyielding determination to be rooted in our community and to work with and for our residents.

We have faced huge challenges in the last six years. Importantly we had the vision to prepare for the financial downturn and what it would require from us before it happened. We have had a relentless focus on what matters most and the creativity to think about how to achieve that for the future rather than simply to repeat the patterns of the past. The One Council and One Kingston programmes have been immense achievements from all of us. Through the One Council programme from 2009-2012 we transformed the way we work, through integration and produced savings of £10m. Through the One Kingston programme from 2012- 2015 we became a commissioning council and achieved savings of £16m, setting up Achieving for Children, ICT shared services, HR shared services, shared legal services and working with Your Healthcare. Our programmed approach to change minimized shocks to the system and to our community.  We are now on the Our Kingston programme through which we will become an enabling council.

What shines through all this is our fundamental strength.  Kingston is a place with a marvellous history to inspire our future. Most importantly of all it is a place now where people have confidence in themselves and each other. What has served us well is vision and ambition and that will continue to serve us into the future.

I began Kingston Futures more than three years ago because it was important to display confidence about our place in the world and that has been successful with the enthusiastic embrace of our administration in bringing in over £1.3bn of potential inward investment to our Borough.

Whether it is mini-Holland or Cross Rail 2, Kingston has a premier place in London and national decision makers’ minds. Notably since I joined Kingston our population has increased by 27% to 168,000. People are voting with their feet because they recognise the qualities that we have nurtured and sustained.

It is that spirit that brought the Olympic road race to our town. Who can cap Sir Bradley Wiggins’ words: "Coming through Kingston, the noise was incredible. I’m never going to experience anything like that again in my sporting career. That’s it. That experience topped everything off right there. It was phenomenal."

I feel the same way. What makes Kingston unique is the combination of vision, commitment to our Borough and spirit of partnership which more than one set of inspectors has remarked is in our bloodstream. We have a set of fundamental strengths of which anyone would be envious.  Above all it is the people with whom I have worked that make Kingston so special. I will treasure my memories of working with you and miss you all. As I said at the beginning Kingston is a brilliant place and all the potential is there to make it even better in the future.