Departed Northamptonshire County Council chief had been paid almost £1m as a consultant

Damon Lawrenson was the only candidate interviewed
Damon Lawrenson was the only candidate interviewed

Cash-strapped Northamptonshire County Council paid £931,000 to a consultancy firm owned by former CEO Damon Lawrenson, who quit this week.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the GMB union shows the authority paid out the sum over a five-year period.

Mr Lawrenson was appointed in November and a separate FOI by GMB shows no other candidates were shortlisted or even considered for the role.

Rachelle Wilkins, GMB Organiser, said: “For Northamptonshire County Council to splurge almost £1million on consultancy while people are losing their jobs and services are being cut is a real kick in the teeth.

“And what makes it worse is this cash was paid to a company owned by Damon Lawrenson – who has already trousered north of £1,000 a day during his five months as stand-in CEO.

“NCC’s bankruptcy was cooked in up Whitehall by the Conservative’s failed austerity agenda.

“But the staggering financial incompetence of the Tory council has made a bad situation much, much worse.

“Under the Conservatives our public services have been weakened, conditions for the workforce have deteriorated meanwhile fat cats like Damon Lawrenson have got richer.”

The FOI response by the council said leader Heather Smith and her cabinet made an interim appointment as Chief Executive after interviewing Mr Lawrenson to "ensure a quick transition and maintain secure leadership". They admitted no-one else was interviewed, reasoning that "Damon Lawrenson was the only internal candidate available to undertake this at this time."

Mr Lawrenson left his post as Chief Executive ‘by mutual consent’ after just five months in the job.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “Salaries reflect responsibilities associated with the posts, many of which require highly-qualified, professional staff, while being mindful of the necessity of providing value for money.

“It must be noted that about £560k was incurred in the three years between 2008/09 and 2010/11.

“Additionally, as a contractor Damon is not eligible for sick-pay, holiday pay or pension contributions.”