Search Begins For New Chief Executive For Council
The islands’ Council is without a chief executive this morning following the announcement that Philip Hygate is to take retirement with immediate effect.
The man who has been the Council’s head since 1992 has been away from his desk since October 30th.
That’s when he was suspended following a four-and-a-half hour Council meeting that considered a number of allegations against him. Mr Hygate has denied them all.
Calls for a judicial review into the legality of the process that led to his suspension didn’t materialise.
Negotiations over an exit package for the chief continued with the support of the majority of Councillors, but Mr Hygate chose early retirement, an option following his 55th birthday this week.
We understand that Mr Hygate, who earned £89,000 a year, will be paid one year’s salary including pension contributions, his removal expenses to the mainland, and he will stay in his Council home, which comes with the job, until the end of March.
His legal fees will also be paid.
There are restrictions preventing Mr Hygate working with named organisations that work with the islands’ Council, should he wish to seek employment in his retirement.
He had sat on the national AONB board and represented Scilly on the Local Enterprise Partnership.
Staff were informed by email yesterday that their boss was retiring.
Chairman of Council Mike Hicks has had to step away from the issues surrounding Philip Hyate’s suspension as his daughter-in-law made written allegations.
Initially, Mr Hygate’s advisors had pushed for a significant financial settlement but Mike says in the end, it was an agreement that suited all parties and limited the costs to the Council taxpayer.
Recently the relationship between the chief exec and Council chairman has become difficult. Mike says before Mr Hygate was put on gardening leave, he told the chief exec he couldn’t work with him.
So what will happen next?
Mike says he wants a ‘night-watchman’, to look at all the Council’s processes. He says Scilly’s needs are unique and he rejects suggestions that the islands should be run by Cornwall Council.
He says a fresh pair of eyes would be important in the short term and he wants to appoint a locum before a permanent appointment is made.
Mike has had names suggested and will need to talk to members about filling the position this week.
It’s likely that the Local Government Association will offer suggestions of who to take on temporarily. He says there’s no timeline for the recruitment of a full time chief and that no current senior Council managers have put themselves forward for the CEO role as yet.
In the meantime, Mike says it’s business as normal. The deputy chief executive Neville Gardner is currently the most senior officer in the Town Hall and Mike says if there was an emergency then Neville would be “the prime mover.”
Council insiders say Mr Hygate’s goal was to be the longest serving chief executive in local government. That ambition will not be realised now.
In a statement, Mr Hygate said: “It has been a privilege to be part of such a special place and to have contributed to securing its well-being and potential. I wish Scilly the best for the future.”