Looking back at the past, an occasional series. Part one: LBWF CEO Roger Kilburn is sacked and walks away with £356,000

The story reproduced below is from the Oldham Evening Chronicle of 11 June 2010, and deals with the dismissal of current LBWF CEO Martin Esom’s immediate predecessor, Andrew Kilburn.

Briefly, Mr. Kilburn had come to Waltham Forest with a big reputation, gained during a long career in local government, and burnished by his recent leadership of Oldham Council through a period of heightened racial tension.

Yet after just 21 months in his new post, Mr. Kilburn found himself surplus to requirements, and in circumstances that the Local Government Chronicle described as ‘mysterious’.

What had gone wrong?

Some posited a personality clash, with the newly appointed and autocratic Council Leader, Chris Robbins, demanding a subservience which Mr. Kilburn found unpalatable.

Others believed that there were deeper issues – that Mr. Kilburn’s commissioning of the scathing Independent Panel report into LBWF affairs (see the link in ‘Latest Documents’ on the left), and then his determination to implement its recommendations, threatened to blow open the entrenched culture of corporate secrecy.

One particularly sensitive issue was the whereabouts of large sums of Neighbourhood Renewal Fund (NRF) monies, provided by the government to help the poor, but which now seemed to have vanished into thin air. 

Indeed, Cllr. Robbins himself had questions to answer here, because he had previously been Cabinet portfolio holder for education, and though a million pounds from the NRF budget had been allocated to help prevent truancy etc., it remained unaccounted for (see link, below).

What can be said is that the Cabinet discussion of Mr. Kilburn’s dismissal was held in closed session (that is, the public were not allowed to know what happened); Mr. Kilburn later received a pay-off amounting to £356,000 (roughly £4,200 for every week of service); and when LBWF turned to appoint a new CEO, Cllr. Robbins was adamant that it should be the internal candidate, the (at that time) less than distinguished Martin Esom.

The moral of this story? It is surely fairly obvious….

Related Posts

Documenting Past Failures: (3) NRF, EduAction and an open letter to Cllr. Chris Robbins

Documenting Past Failures: (4) NRF, EduAction, and the Youth At Risk programme

Documenting Past Failures: (7) The Independent Panel and a ‘scathing’ report on LBWF’s ‘deep-rooted culture of non-compliance with procedures to prevent fraud’.