Councillors explain walk out over Sheila Wheeler pay-off

This is The West Country: Sheila Wheeler. Sheila Wheeler.

MORE than a third of councillors walked out of a meeting to discuss a £40,000 pay-off for Somerset County Council’s chief executive because “they did not want to be part of the process”.

Sheila Wheeler had been away from County Hall since November and on full-paid absence since about mid-December but the County Gazette revealed last week that she will receive three months’ pay in lieu of notice – a quarter of her £160,000-a-year salary.

Before the confidential papers were handed out at last Wednesday’s full council meeting, all the members from the opposition LibDems and independent councillor Hugh Davies left.

LibDem leader Cllr Sam Crabb said the decision to leave had been made before the meeting took place.

He said: “We feel it is a great shame the chief executive has not been in her post for the past few months and it is not good use of taxpayers’ money. If we had stayed in the meeting we would have been complicit to the decision – we did not want to be involved in the process.”

A spokesman for Somerset County Council this week said legal costs connected with Ms Wheeler’s departure are still to be finalised and Patrick Flaherty, deputy chief executive, will serve as the acting chief executive.

Independent councillor Nigel Pearson said he felt the pay-off figure was an excellent result for the council. He said: “From the outset, it could have gone to £500,000 and cost the ratepayer a lot of money.

“I do not think they will be rushing in for a replacement.”

Cllr Davies said he walked out of the meeting because he wasn’t happy with how the situation had been handled, adding: “We don’t even know the half of what has gone; I guess the payout could have been a lot more.”

Cllr Leigh Redman said all the Labour members stayed to look at the confidential papers. He added: “I am pleased the council has been able to agree a position with Sheila. The person selected [to replace Ms Wheeler] will have a hard job in the current financial climate.”

Comments (7)

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1:35pm Fri 28 Feb 14

james66 says...

mite try that at my job,walk out and still get paid.well done scc.
mite try that at my job,walk out and still get paid.well done scc. james66
  • Score: 10

3:35pm Fri 28 Feb 14

MannaMachine says...

Sheila was put on Garden leave back in November while being investigated for bullying. And good old SCC reward the b**ch like this? Laughable decision making - like most tory councils.
Sheila was put on Garden leave back in November while being investigated for bullying. And good old SCC reward the b**ch like this? Laughable decision making - like most tory councils. MannaMachine
  • Score: 15

6:42am Sat 1 Mar 14

ladybird14 says...

MannaMachine wrote:
Sheila was put on Garden leave back in November while being investigated for bullying. And good old SCC reward the b**ch like this? Laughable decision making - like most tory councils.
are you saying she was on investigation for bullying ,and now has had a good pay off and was on full pay whilst off to me this is just a reward for something we are tought not to do primary school
[quote][p][bold]MannaMachine[/bold] wrote: Sheila was put on Garden leave back in November while being investigated for bullying. And good old SCC reward the b**ch like this? Laughable decision making - like most tory councils.[/p][/quote]are you saying she was on investigation for bullying ,and now has had a good pay off and was on full pay whilst off to me this is just a reward for something we are tought not to do primary school ladybird14
  • Score: 4

7:01am Sat 1 Mar 14

ladybird14 says...

its nice to know other cllr's are on our side and walked out of the meeting .
when they decide to advertise the job the ad should read ......

SHEILA WHEELER'S OLD JOB they will have so many apply old and young
its nice to know other cllr's are on our side and walked out of the meeting . when they decide to advertise the job the ad should read ...... SHEILA WHEELER'S OLD JOB they will have so many apply old and young ladybird14
  • Score: 1

8:25am Sat 1 Mar 14

tincanalley says...

ladybird14 wrote:
MannaMachine wrote:
Sheila was put on Garden leave back in November while being investigated for bullying. And good old SCC reward the b**ch like this? Laughable decision making - like most tory councils.
are you saying she was on investigation for bullying ,and now has had a good pay off and was on full pay whilst off to me this is just a reward for something we are tought not to do primary school
Yes, that's exactly what he's saying and what has been rattling around County Hall for three months rumor wise. Without a Leader to back you up, a CEo can be challenged as regards behavior it seems. Looks like this has happened. SCC has a mantra of 'Care and Respect?' You can't write it really can you.
[quote][p][bold]ladybird14[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]MannaMachine[/bold] wrote: Sheila was put on Garden leave back in November while being investigated for bullying. And good old SCC reward the b**ch like this? Laughable decision making - like most tory councils.[/p][/quote]are you saying she was on investigation for bullying ,and now has had a good pay off and was on full pay whilst off to me this is just a reward for something we are tought not to do primary school[/p][/quote]Yes, that's exactly what he's saying and what has been rattling around County Hall for three months rumor wise. Without a Leader to back you up, a CEo can be challenged as regards behavior it seems. Looks like this has happened. SCC has a mantra of 'Care and Respect?' You can't write it really can you. tincanalley
  • Score: 6

8:37am Sat 1 Mar 14

mendipdweller says...

I totally agree with Sam Crabb. Given the Tories at County Hall have silenced all democracy routes otherwise available to opposition Cllrs, it's a pretty sad state of affairs when all you have left is to register your disgust by leaving the chamber when they took this outrageous decision. To be honest, non Tory Cllrs and most of the staff must weep when they see what's happening at SCC. Still, residents save £20 a year if thir council tax stays zero % uplift. From the copy of the paper regarding Wheeler I've had described to me by a Cllr friend, it's an absolute train crash. Come on SCC, publish the facts and lets see how you really take decisions about leadership, discipline and pay offs.
I totally agree with Sam Crabb. Given the Tories at County Hall have silenced all democracy routes otherwise available to opposition Cllrs, it's a pretty sad state of affairs when all you have left is to register your disgust by leaving the chamber when they took this outrageous decision. To be honest, non Tory Cllrs and most of the staff must weep when they see what's happening at SCC. Still, residents save £20 a year if thir council tax stays zero % uplift. From the copy of the paper regarding Wheeler I've had described to me by a Cllr friend, it's an absolute train crash. Come on SCC, publish the facts and lets see how you really take decisions about leadership, discipline and pay offs. mendipdweller
  • Score: 9

10:13am Sat 1 Mar 14

ShoulderToShoulder says...

Let's not forget that the previous CEO Alan Jones was appointed under the previous Lib-Dem controlled SCC.

Mr Jones' was the chief architect behind the catastrophic SouthWest One privatisation 'project', which involvied IBM as the main 'provider'. The man who clearly 'suffered' delusions of grandeur, of seemingly almost messianic proportions, stated repeatedly that he would take Somerset to 'Beyond Excellence'... the end result being that SouthWest One has cost SCC tax payers £millions, IBM pulled out of the contract, and Jonesy boy got the push before also receiving a more than generous pay-off, of more than a hundred thousand quid plus more than generous gold plated pension provision!

The best thing all these councillors from all the three main Cuts Parties can do; would be to walk out of County Hall; NEVER RETURN and make way for councillors whom actually stand against ALL cuts to ALL jobs and ALL services!
Let's not forget that the previous CEO Alan Jones was appointed under the previous Lib-Dem controlled SCC. Mr Jones' was the chief architect behind the catastrophic SouthWest One privatisation 'project', which involvied IBM as the main 'provider'. The man who clearly 'suffered' delusions of grandeur, of seemingly almost messianic proportions, stated repeatedly that he would take Somerset to 'Beyond Excellence'... the end result being that SouthWest One has cost SCC tax payers £millions, IBM pulled out of the contract, and Jonesy boy got the push before also receiving a more than generous pay-off, of more than a hundred thousand quid plus more than generous gold plated pension provision! The best thing all these councillors from all the three main Cuts Parties can do; would be to walk out of County Hall; NEVER RETURN and make way for councillors whom actually stand against ALL cuts to ALL jobs and ALL services! ShoulderToShoulder
  • Score: -1

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