Ex-chief will lead economic growth in new £110k role

A former council chief believed to have received a six-figure pay-off only five years ago has returned to the local authority in a new role.

Geoff Paul, former chief executive at Blyth Valley Borough Council, received a reported figure of over £250,000 when the authority was scrapped in 2009 following the re-organisation of local government in Northumberland.

But now he has made a return to local government after being appointed to a senior role within Northumberland County Council.

Interviews were carried out last week and Mr Paul was formally appointed last Friday.

The appointment comes after he had been working for the council on an interim position since January.

He has been given the newly created role of director of planning, economy and housing.

At the beginning of the month the county council formally approved the creation of the job, with a salary of around £110,000.

However, the council came under fire at the time from opposition members who felt the authority was creating more senior executive posts just months after reducing the number of senior figures in a bid to cut costs.

Conservative group leader Coun Peter Jackson said: “I still question whether this role should have been created at that level of seniority and at that level of pay.”

But the council has welcomed the new appointed and believes Mr Paul will help bring economic growth to the council.

A council spokesperson: “The council is delighted to confirm the appointment of Geoff Paul as director of planning, economy and housing.

“His previous experience at a senior level as a chief executive, combined with his business experience over the past five years in setting up his own company, will be of great value to the council as it continues to drive forward the economic growth of the county.

“Mr Paul was made redundant as chief executive of the former Blyth Valley Council and paid the appropriate legal compensations.”

Before the appointment, a report to full council said: “This new post is seen as essential in driving the Corporate Plan objective of promoting sustainable economic growth within the county.

“At present, the key services that are fundament are split across different parts of the organisation.

“Bringing them together into a unified directorate will further strengthen their interaction and combined effect in promoting economic growth whilst protecting the county’s environment.”

Mr Paul was one of five chief executives who lost their jobs in 2009 when the two-tier local government structure was scrapped.