Sickening £475,000 payout is par for the course in council fantasy land

by Colin Campbell

FOODBANK users and coronavirus redundancy victims who believe that the £475,000 redundancy payout to a senior council official is fully justified and that he deserves every penny have had their views bolstered by the fact that he is not alone in receiving such largesse.

£800,000 fatcat payout champion Janice Hewitt.

Those working exhausting split shifts on the minimum wage in a desperate struggle to keep their jobs and businesses alive who believe that lavishing nearly half a million pounds on a council bureaucrat sailing serenely into the sunset (cruise liner ahoy!) represents excellent value for money may also be on the right track.

Folk losing their jobs with barely enough to get them through the next month are to be applauded for their generosity of spirit in insisting that this is money tremendously well earned.

In a time of unprecedented stress and hardship for many, the golden wheelbarrow pay deal for former director of community services William Gilfillan, when placed in proper, ie council, perspective may even seem a bit stingy.

A cursory online search reveals that other senior officials with fancy nameplates on their office doors have left other councils with similar largesse, or at least close to it.

The Gilfillan £475,000 payout package is not the largest awarded in recent times.

The honour of getting the best ever payoff goes to Janice Hewitt, the former chief officer of North Lanarkshire Council’s health and social care department, who recently departed with a package totalling around £800,000.

William Gilfillan’s leave the council-win the lottery award seems like peanuts compared with that.

There are not, however, many other examples of officials in Scotland departing with packages close to half a million pounds.

Across England, however, golden handshakes in the £200,000-300,000 range are quite common.

But now we must return to reality and leave council financial fantasy land behind.

Inverness news and views has been unable, in truth, to find any foodbank user, newly unemployed person or exhausted minimum wage split shift worker who has given a ringing endorsement to the Gilfillan “golden handshake”, but who knows, they may be out there.

We are trying to put a positive slant on the gargantuan payout because this council has in recent times made such a determined effort to spit in the face of public opinion that if you let it all get to you you could end up with a coronary.

There comes a time when you know what to expect and in terms of getting furiously worked up about it decide there are no new heights of apoplexy to hit and enough is enough. Just try and calm down.

So we will conclude by saying these are the broader facts regarding massive council pay-offs. These are not uncommon.

And we will add coolly and calmly with blood pressure at normal levels that the £475,000 awarded to the departing director of community services – no matter how it was calculated according to the council financial fantasy land rules – remains scandalous, sickening and OBSCENE.

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