Chief executive’s resignationsurprises Eden councillors

Date: Friday 19th January 2018

EDEN Council chief executive Robin Hooper has resigned from the authority after seven years’ service. His decision to stand down came as complete surprise to councillors.

The 56-year-old said he wanted to spend time helping to turn around failing public bodies. He will remain in post until 31st May.

The announcement came just days after the authority reviewed his contract, which was last year renewed on a part-time basis, with a total remuneration of £92,890 for 2.5 days’ work a week. This was based on a contract payment of £83,000 to Dr. Hooper’s company, Enterprise Matters Ltd., plus national insurance and pension contributions.

The leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the council, Virginia Taylor, said Dr. Hooper’s resignation came as a complete surprise to councillors. “I was absolutely not expecting it to happen and there had been no rumours at all beforehand,” she said.

Dr. Hooper said: “In 2011, I was appointed as CEO of Eden District Council for a nine-month period to help with the challenges the council faced at this time.

“These included being chairman of the multi-agency group for Appleby horse fair, the threatened closure of the local cinema, threatened closure of Newton Rigg College, the council’s financial challenges and governance issues involving former members, together with a host of other matters.

“Having put in place measures to resolve the various matters during 2011, the council invited me to remain as chief executive. I certainly did not believe that I would still be here some seven years later.

“Over recent months, I have been considering what I would like to be involved with in the future. Having previously been involved in many major public and private schemes and helped turn around failing public bodies/authorities, etc, I would like to create capacity in my life to be able to do more of this.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Eden. I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to all colleagues and members for the support they have given to me. I wish them all well for the future.”

The authority is looking at a recruitment process to appoint a new chief executive and a report will go before the council on 15th February. Council leader Kevin Beaty said: “Seven years ago Eden District Council faced a huge financial challenge. The council had a deficit budget and was facing government cuts to help balance the nation’s budget.

“Dr. Robin Hooper was employed by the council, which was then led by Gordon Nicolson, for a nine- month period to help the organisation through a very difficult time of reorganisation. Dr. Hooper was persuaded to stay on to implement the changes proposed and steer the council towards a solid financial future.

“During those seven years, with Dr. Hooper’s help and experience, Eden District Council has become a financial success, while making no cuts to its services.

“At a time when the UK is entering a period of uncertainty, we are lucky to have a stable council with strong financial reserves so that we can be at the forefront of growth and prosperity for Cumbria.

“On behalf of all members of the council and officers who have served the district under Robin’s term as chief executive I would like to thank him for his service to and dedication to our district and wish him well with his next challenging project.”

The review of Dr. Hooper’s contract was discussed at a behind closed doors session of the full council last Thursday.

An Eden Council spokesman said: “Members agreed the officers’ recommendation to consider this matter in Part II and we have no further comment to make as regards that decision. The council meeting on 8th March will consider the council’s pay and discretions policy statement and that will, among other matters, set out the details of chief officer pay, including that of the chief executive, with effect from April.”