Council paid £90,000 to chief executive who quit after 5 months

Bolton Council paid a £90,000 severance package to former chief executive Paul Najsarek after he quit just five months in the job.

The authority's statement of accounts for 2015-16 shows he received £55,192 in a negotiated severance deal, along with £34,808 in lieu of notice.

Najsarek joined Bolton in May 2015 from the London Borough of Harrow, where he had been a director since 2004. He was appointed following a three-day assessment process and approval by the full council.

At the time, council leader Cllr Cliff Morris said Najsarek would be a "great asset to the council at a time when we have to make significant savings, transform services and maintain community outcomes despite reducing resources".

However, it was announced in November that Najsarek would be stepping down to "prioritise home life". He was appointed as chief executive of the London Borough of Ealing in April.

The Bolton News reports that the authority believed Najsarek was keen to move North but did not make a written stipulation that he would relocate from London. He was also not subject to a probationary period when he took the job.

The newspaper repeatedly asked the council for details of the severance package but was told it was personal information and could only be disclosed with Najsarek's permission. The council claimed he always refused.

A subsquent Freedom of Information request for the figures was rejected and the paper had launched an appeal against the decision. That process was halted in April when the council accepted that the figures would be made public in any case in its annual statement of accounts.

Cllr Morris told the Bolton News that Najsarek's departure "shook us rigid".

"At the selection process, we asked the question and he said he would definitely be moving up to the area. He was from the North originally and we understood he was looking forward to returning," he said.

"We agreed that he could initially work from home one day per week as he looked for a place to live. We took him around local schools that his children could have attended - we fully believed he would be moving."

When it became clear that his family would not be relocating, Cllr Morris told Najsarek it was untenable to have the chief executive of Bolton living in London, which led to an agreement he would leave.

The council said it has recouped the money paid to Najsarek by not filling the vacant post of deputy chief executive.

Bolton's statement of accounts shows the council has made savings of £120m between 2011 and the end of 2015-16, mostly driven by "significant reductions" in central government grants. Its budget, set in February 2015, assumed it would have to make further cuts of almost £24m in 2015-16 and another £18m in 2016-17.

Najsarek's current employer, Ealing Council, told LGE he does not wish to comment.