By a Newsnet reporter
Politicians and campaign groups have reacted with fury at revelations that a controversial head of a company set up by disgraced former leader of Glasgow council Steven Purcell is to be awarded a ‘golden goodbye’ of £615,000 of taxpayers cash.
Details of the record payout, the biggest in public sector history, are contained in a report by the Scottish Sunday Express.
The paper reports that Willie Docherty, head of the cash-strapped Scottish council’s arm’s-length firm City Building, is apparently in line to receive a staggering £615,000 when he steps down next year.
Part of a special super-charged early retirement package, the prospective deal includes a £465,000 tax-free sum on top of his £150,000 salary – an annual wage higher than UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
Mr Docherty, who is the husband of Glasgow Labour councillor Sadie Docherty, is also rumoured to be in line for a 40 year service bonus despite having only having 30 years’ service.
The payout has been described as a “massive slap in the face” for Glasgow’s council taxpayers, many of whom are among the poorest in Western Europe.
John O’Connell, research director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Taxpayers will be furious if any of their cash has been used to fund this golden goodbye.
“All too often we see executives walk away with huge amounts of taxpayers’ money and these types of deals have to come to an end if we want to have sustainable public finances in the future.”
The revelations come on top of a freedom of information request that showed the Labour run local authority had paid out over £200,000 in out of court settlements over the last four years.
City Building was one of a dozen Arms Length Organisations (ALEOS) set up by disgraced former council leader Steven Purcell.
Set up in 2006, the firm was the subject of a police investigation last year after concerns were raised over its links to the Labour party and possible inappropriate use of taxpayers’ cash.
The firm paid £4,000 for tables at Labour Party fundraising events that entertained senior Labour figures, including Labour’s Holyrood leader Iain Gray and his wife.
Three of the four councillors on the board of City Building were appointed by Labour and in 2008 a former general secretary of Scottish Labour, Lesley Quinn, was made a senior manager.
The firm is also reported to have lavished money on leasing luxury cars and spent almost £20,000 in 2008/09 on dinners, many of which were attended by Labour councillors. According to official documents no councillors from any other parties have ever been entertained by City Building.
City Building also awarded a £600,000 contract to Labour donor Andrew Smillie’s scaffolding firm, and gave out £100 vouchers for a restaurant owned by Labour supporter James Mortimer.
News of the pay-out was condemned by SNP MSP James Dornan who is also the former leader of the council’s SNP group. Mr Dornan said taxpayers would struggle to understand why their money was being used in this way.
Mr Dornan said:
“This record pay-off is disgraceful and Glasgow deserves so much better.
“At a time when Glaswegians are tightening their belts, people will properly ask how this golden goodbye is deserved or appropriate.
“With an FOI also revealing that Glasgow City Council has paid out £200,000 in out-of-court settlements over the last four years – people will wonder what world the Labour administration lives in? Why should taxpayers’ money be used to pay for the Labour administration’s mistakes.
“At least next year voters in Glasgow will have a golden opportunity to say goodbye to the council’s Labour administration at the local elections and elect SNP councillors who will fight for the priorities of people in Glasgow, delivering the jobs and investment that the city deserves.”