Scilly’s Chief Executive Won’t Get Pay For Accrued Leave

Council chief executive, Philip Hygate

The Council Chief Executive, Philip Hygate, won’t be paid all of the £40,000 he could claim for around 100 days of untaken holiday entitlement, which goes back to the days of the Cita disaster in 1997.

Council Chairman Mike Hicks wouldn’t reveal last night’s decision. He said he would be writing to the Chief Executive today to tell him the outcome.

But we understand that members wouldn’t support paying out that amount, although he will be able to take some of the time off.

On leaving the meeting, Gordon Bilsborough said he was pleased with how the meeting went.

Members with whom we spoke said that the policy of only allowing five days roll-over leave, unless circumstances are exceptional, would now be strictly enforced.

Some Councillors are expecting Mr Hygate to challenge their decision.

Deputy Chief Executive Neville Gardner also has accrued leave that he has not taken.

The Chairman of the Islands’ Council excluded the press and public from the hour-long debate last night. Mike told people gathered in the Old Wesleyan Chapel that he favours transparency but he made his decision following legal advice from two sources including the Local Government Association in London.

The exclusion of the public was challenged by the BBC. They argued that Mr Hygate had been questioned earlier in the day on BBC Cornwall and featured on TV’s Spotlight programme discussing the issue. They said the issue was now in the public domain and the debate should be public.

Cllrs Bilsborough and McCarthy agreed. The members both thought there was so much local interest in the matter, the media should be able to report it.

Gordon thought the members should decide whether there was a public discussion not Mike Hicks alone, but accepted there were legal implications.

In April we reported that the auditor’s report had warned the Council that leave rules were not being adhered to and a total of £225,000 was owed to employees for 790 days of annual leave entitlement that had been carried forward.

But after last night’s meeting, Mike Hicks says he knew nothing of the leave matter until this summer and he still doesn’t know how the Chief Executive has accrued so much leave.

Staff holidays are usually authorised by a line manager but just how the Mr Hygates’ leave is authorised isn’t clear. Mike wouldn’t answer questions about that.

Philip Hygate was not present for the session and Mike says there will be a statement about the matter.


22 Responses to Scilly’s Chief Executive Won’t Get Pay For Accrued Leave

  1. Mike Peaker October 4, 2012 at 3:30 pm


    Thank you; I should have been more precise in my choice of words. What I should have said was:

    “In effect it was essentially a decision of those Councillors who live on St Mary’s, as the discussion did not start until after Councillors who live on off islands had to leave to catch boats home, and thus could not participate”.

    My point was a generic one and simply that where a Councillor lives should not exclude him or her from full participation in Council meetings.

  2. Nobby Nobbs October 3, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    With regard to Mr Peaker’s comment above, I think I’m right in saying that councillors Bennett & Ticehurst both of Bryher were two of the councillors that voted through the senior officers payrise.

    And while we’re on the subject of off island councillors, the fact is that off islanders are disproportionately represented on the council with 50% of the council being made up of off islanders while only representing a quarter of the Isles of Scilly population.

    However to counter Mikes fears that the off island councillors have to leave the meetings early in order to catch the last boat home, why don’t the off island councillors make use of the video links installed in each of the off island schools as this would save an £80 return boat trip and allow the councillors to contribute to a full meeting. Just a thought.

  3. Mike Peaker October 3, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Whatever the outcome of the closed door discussions, it will be presented as a Council decision. In effect it was essentially a St Mary’s Councillors’s decision, as the discussion did not start until after off island Councillors had to leave to catch boats home, and thus could not participate. This is not the first time this situation has arisen, whereby a large proportion of Councillors are effectively excluded from debates becuase of a practical guillotine on their attendance. This problem needs addressing and a solution found that allows all Councillors to participate in the complete agenda of Council meetings.

  4. Todd Stevens October 2, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Have any of our councillors been allowed to see who signed this time sheet for £40,000 worth of accrued pay in liue? if not then how can it even be valid? Clearly our CE thinks it is valid otherwise why would he make the claim? Who signed this paperwork off as correct? Was that person qualified or legally entitled to sign it off? As this is a demand for £40,000 of our money, then we should be entitled to know answers to all of the above.

  5. Mike Brown October 1, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    There’s a difference here between leave or holiday entitlement. As I understand things if a senior member of staff works more hours than normal they can get time off in lieu, they cannot receive money for their extra time worked.

    So for instance when the Cita was wrecked any extra time worked would have been only time owed. The wreck happened in March 1997, this would have given a full year for anyone to take time off for extra hours worked.

    Any leave or holidays missed during the busy early months of clearing up the wreck could easily have been taken later on in the autumn, winter or spring. Failure to do so would have been simply bad time management resulting in the loss of all bar five days.

  6. Tony Brown October 1, 2012 at 8:49 am

    As an outsider who has known and visited the islands for 50 years, I am astounded. Would the Monitoring Officer be responsible for checking this? Wonder who that might be? If other council employees are only permitted to roll over 5 days leave, why should the Chief Exec be different?

    Right now, Scilly is facing something of a crisis. I saw it on my last visit in late July/early August. The islands were much quieter for that time of year than I have ever seen. Surely the powers that be need to be focusing on this, for without tourism, the islands are dead in the water. Yet all I see (admittedly from a distance in E. Cornwall) is contention (I will be interested to see the outcome of the Wilby issue, now being reported on BBC Radio Cornwall) and dispute. They have even failed to appoint to new tourism head, which would appear to be a key role.

    I do not live there, so it might be argued that it’s not my business. In reply, I would comment that I love Scilly and hate to see what is happening. Lose the “wow” factor, the real differences the islands had which made them unique in the UK and they become rocks off Cornwall that are expensive to reach.

  7. Kastri September 30, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    This summer’s lead stories involving the council, leads me to struggle to understand how the plan of increasing valuable footfall and revenue, which has clearly been dropping year on year will ever be realised. Please somebody take some leadership, ownership and direction.

  8. JANE September 29, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    I’m pretty sure that a previous councillor was concerned about the airport a couple of years ago and was treated badely about it. when he mentioned his concern’s about the future running of it ect… its come back to bite them on the bum… and also i am sure they can find someone who can monitor the council without it costing the earth. we would also save thousends if they stopped taking everyone even councillors to court and paying out to staff .?? i think you all know where i’m coming from here. and its over nothing half the time to. its all about power eh mr hygate,
    Who may i add keeps insisting he has none. let us hope in future everyone that has trouble shouts out wether they’v been threatened or not…. We all need to stick together in this to sort.
    it. AND Sorry but i think some of the councillors have had their day. mr lowen, mr tyhurst, etc you need to give the younger generation a chance, please stand down and the ones there listen to your voters….. i also hope to see some new candidates putting up next year…..
    MAY 2013

  9. Cassandra September 28, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    I’m with Jon on most of his comments which very much chime with my own views. I would however urge him to go easy on Mike Hicks. Mike put himself up for the Council Chair at a time of crisis and, by doing so, almost certainly avoided things becoming far worse than they are – believe it or not.

    He’s been a unifying figure who’s begun the huge task of turning the Council around and, as I understand it, intends to stand down in May and (hopefully) hand over to someone who can carry on the process. None of the problems that seem to emerge on an almost weekly basis are his fault and he’s doing his best in very trying circumstances. I’m sure he would much rather be enjoying his retirement than going through all this. And, please bear his recent serious illness and the bereavement his family recently suffered.

  10. Sue Williams September 28, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    How has this happened ? Because our officers have been taking the p*** for a long time. No-one has had the guts or the will to question just what is going on, and by no-one I mean no councillor. The time has come for a proper investigation by a team that has no contacts within our council, perhaps the `fraud squad` !!!!!

  11. Gordon Bilsborough September 28, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Speaking generally, whilst I fully appreciate that Council Members must not be libellous or bring the Council into disrepute, I sometimes feel that “legal reasons” are dredged up by the bucketful to prevent potentially embarrassing situations being debated in public. Unnecessary secrecy only encourages public suspicions and malign rumours. As far I am concerned, the bottom line is that the Truth, Transparency and Democracy are not negotiable. These cannot be sacrificed on the altar of expediency simply to conceal inefficiency, mismanagement (or worse) by anyone.

  12. Nick F September 28, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Well Jon, we could always ignore legal advice after it has been sought. Then when our Council is sued or taken to an employment tribunal we can site you as the defence, having ignored the aforesaid legal advice!

  13. IanT September 28, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Why has the CEO raised this issue at this time? Surely it’s just a smokescreen to divert attention away from more important issues like the head teacher and the airport problems.

  14. Todd Stevens September 28, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Isnt it the Chairman who is supposed to sign off the top officers chitty? Mike Hicks should demand to see who was signing it and find out if it was legal or not. If not legal then the police should get involved for possible fraud. Iif this is the case, then I rather suspect that this paperwork will mysteriously disappear.

  15. Jane September 28, 2012 at 5:28 pm


  16. Jane September 28, 2012 at 5:27 pm


  17. Jon September 28, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    This is unacceptable on every level.

    A) How can the Chief Executive and his Deputy have been allowed to accrue such an absurd amount of holiday?

    B) Who signed off on it?

    It’s NOT good enough for the hapless Chairman to just say “we’ll look into it” or “the systems will change.” This SAME chairman said, when asked who signed off on the Chief Exec’s leave that “it should have been me, but it hasn’t been me.” Does he think this is a joke?

    Frankly, Mike Hicks should recognise that such a lame position makes his position untenable. It is not acceptable for the Chairman to point out, presumably with a straight face, that he has been duped and processes were manipulated…but it’s OK because he’s going to change it now.

    I would like to congratulate Cllrs Bilsborough and McCarthy for their position; I appreciate that “legal advice” (this council won’t open a door without taking legal advice) made it difficult to change the meeting from private to open, but at least these two Cllrs recognised the public fury and the right for the media to know what’s happening.

    Other Cllrs, particularly Cllr O’Neill and Cllr Day were almost sycophantic in their slavish obligation to the “legal advice.” Having taken legal advice on whether to debate the issue in private Cllr Day then wanted yet MORE legal advice to know if they could even talk about it.

    What is the point of having such tame and weak Councillors acting in our name? I hope to see wholesale change in next May’s elections so that we can have a Chairman who knows how many days there are in a week and a Council who isn’t afraid to question its Senior Officers.

    A commenter above suggests that the Chief Executive and his Deputy have been signing off each others leave for years and I suggest this is most likely the case. If so (and it would be easy to check – just look at the paperwork!) then they should both be fired and quite possibly prosecuted for fraud.

  18. Bill Hiner September 28, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Old proverb:

    Man who hands back leave, gets too much leave!

    The leave allocation for all those employees who regularly hand back leave should now be reviewed to reduce their annual entitlement.

    Leave is leave, not a means of increasing salary.

  19. JeffEastick September 28, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Annual leave is just what it says – holiday entitlement to be taken in one particular year , not something to be stored up over a period of years to provide pecuniary advantage. If not taken it should be lost , as happens with the vast majority of the populace.
    How on earth has this situation festered for so long without the Chairman apparently knowing anything about it ?

  20. Mary September 28, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    If you are appointed to a high position in a local authority you are expected and realise that the need to work extra hours is a necessary part of the position. Many other workers do much beyond their call of duty and are denied time off in llieu. It is a sad reflection that in the past and probably at present, our Chief Officers have delegated much weekend work to others who have not, and do not, receive any financial reward or even gratitude.

  21. Stavropol September 28, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    A man who gains higher position by knife, must always be wary of knives in the waiting. This fear prevents the man from resting.

  22. Stuart September 28, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    I was told by a council employee near the top that the chief executive and the deputy chief executive signed each others leave cards, and I have no reason to doubt him. A quick look through the records should prove this allegation one way or the other. If it’s true then there is an appalling conflict of interest being carried out right under the councils noses.

    I would like to know just how much the council have allowed the chief executive and his deputy to keep. Because as a tax payer who pays their wages and who will be footing the bill for this outrageous attempt to increase their pay, I feel that I have every right to know how much they are costing me.
    And I do wish the council would stop using the “legal reasons” excuse to keep the facts from the public.