The stand-in chief executive of Cheshire East council will be paid £53,000 for just 16 weeks’ work, the Express can reveal.
Kim Ryley, 59, has been handed the role on an interim basis before he retires from the same job at Shropshire council, where he was paid £175,140 a year.
Mr Ryley is familiar with Cheshire East after completing a peer review of the council two weeks ago.
He will start work on August 13 with the situation being reviewed at the end of November.
CEC will pay Shropshire a total of £64,500 for his secondment, which includes the employer’s contributions towards his National Insurance and pension.
However the council is not paying Mr Ryley’s own pension contributions. He will receive £53,889.23, 16 weeks of his normal salary, for the duration of his placement.
The move to replace former CEC chief executive Erika Wenzel, who quit in June after a period of sick leave, has left councillors at both authorities stunned, with some claiming to have been blind-sided by the terms of his appointment.
Mr Ryley said: "I would like to feel that I have room for at least one fresh challenge before I think about a well-earned retirement.
"The council there has huge potential to make a real difference for local people and both councillors and staff are very committed to making this happen quickly."
But CEC leader Coun Michael Jones has admitted much of the discussion around Mr Ryley’s appointment has been ‘informal’.
He also accepted many councillors understood his role would be part-time after discussions among the staffing committee, but said Mr Ryley himself recommended the role should be full-time before negotiating his secondment with his bosses at Shropshire council.
CEC Independent councillor Brendan Murphy claims this means the appointment has not been done in accordance with council procedures and is calling for an emergency meeting of the council’s staffing committee to block it.
He said: "There are far too many unanswered questions. The process of appointing someone on the basis of private chats is unlawful.
"The council constitution lays down very clear rules of procedure. Once again procedures have not been followed.
"In any event, I would have no confidence in a new chief executive whose first words are that he is ‘looking forward to well-earned retirement’."
Labour group leader Coun David Newton – a member of the staffing committee – shared his confusion. He said: "It came as a complete surprise to me and other councillors on the staffing committee. There's a lot of anger among members.
"We have had some discussions about Kim Ryley coming on a secondment, perhaps two or two and a half days a week whilst he was still employed by Shropshire. At no time did we discuss an interim chief executive or him being full-time.
"We also thought it would be for six months and not three. It seems that has been agreed with the authority of the leader."
Coun Jones strongly defended the appointment. He said a council meeting on April 19 had authorised then council leader Wesley Fitzgerald and the staffing committee chairman to 'proceed with the process' of appointing a new chief executive, in consultation with the three opposition leaders.
This was around the time Ms Wenzel went off sick.
He said there had been many 'informal discussions' with cross-party input since his own appointment as leader in May and that many CVs had been considered.
He said: "Kim Ryley is the most outstanding candidate and it saddens me that Coun Murphy has chosen to harangue us about the process because he did not personally meet him.
"Kim’s appointment is the right thing to do – not only for the council, but for the people of Cheshire East. He should bring diverse experience, strength in knowledge and leadership."
He accepted that the original plan had been for a part-time chief executive role but said that Mr Ryley himself thought it needed to be full-time and negotiated with his bosses at Shropshire to let him move over.
Mr Jones added: "This came as a surprise – albeit a pleasant one – as a man of his reputation, with robust support in place, would be a tremendous addition to Cheshire East."
"Bearing in mind the remit provided for the appointment, and that there was no specification of full-time or part-time, and after consultation with Coun David Topping as chair of the staffing committee and the staffing committee, we agreed to proceed with a full-time interim appointment – as this seems best for Cheshire East."
He said the appointment would be reviewed by the staffing committee in November and a cross-party group to review senior management governance would be put together.
"I believe that Coun Murphy should be on that group and I will arrange for him to meet Kim in his first week.
"I would hope that, rather than throwing stones of petulance, a man of Coun Murphy’s experience would better use his abilities by seeking a way forward. I am to meet Coun Murphy to invite him to bring his experience on board to help deliver an open and positive, member-led, policy-led council."
Keith Barrow, Leader of Shropshire Council, said: "This seems an ideal point to support Cheshire East, allowing our neighbours to benefit from Kim’s accomplished experience in local government.
"Cheshire East Council will fund his salary during his time at the authority, where I am certain he will drive forward service improvement, as he has done in Shropshire."
* This story contains amended figures in line with a clarification issued by Cheshire East Council