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Steve McCabe MP tells Birmingham council chief executive Stephen Hughes: ‘Pack your bags, and go’

Steve McCabe MP tells Birmingham council chief executive Stephen Hughes: ‘Pack your bags, and go’

🕔13.Oct 2013

Selly Oak MP Steve McCabe has launched an outspoken attack on the chief executive of Birmingham City Council, telling Stephen Hughes that he should leave his job immediately.

Mr Hughes intends to take early retirement next February, if a suitable replacement can be found, but Mr McCabe said he should “go now” following a row over unanswered letters from MPs.

In an exchange on Twitter, Mr McCabe (Lab) accused Mr Hughes of being “far too important” to reply to correspondence from elected representatives.

In a reference to Mr Hughes’s salary, which was about £233,000 last year including pension contributions and a performance-related bonus, Mr McCabe said he addressed his letters to “whoever gets more than the PM and is supposed to be running Birmingham”.

Mr Hughes wanted an “easy time” before departing with a “fat pension and pay off”, the MP added.

Mr McCabe, who was appointed an Education Minister in Ed Miliband’s recent front bench reshuffle, wrote: “Disgrace – go now.”

Asked to elaborate on his comment, Mr McCabe said: “Tweet refers to chief executive of Birmingham City Council, one of the highest paid local government officers in the country and clearly far too important to deal with complaints from elected representatives about the services he is supposed to be running.

“Taking early retirement and clearly wants an easy time before he goes off with fat pension and pay off.”

His unprecedented attack was backed by Labour city councillor Ian Cruise who said he believed Mr Hughes may have fallen asleep at the October full city council meeting.

Coun Cruise said: “I swear he was nodding off at city council last Tuesday. He obviously thinks he can coast his final months in the job.”

In a message to city council leader Sir Albert Bore, Cllr Cruise added: “I think Albert needs a word.”

Sir Albert announced last month that Mr Hughes is likely to leave the council next year when he is 60. His departure is part of a senior management restructure, which will see five departments reduced to three and save about £500,000.

However, the council leader made it clear that Mr Hughes might stay on if a suitable replacement could not be found.

Mr Hughes’ job will be combined with the head of a new economy department. Although whoever gets the role won’t be called ‘chief executive’, the post-holder will be the head of paid service and in charge of the council.

It’s thought likely that the new head of the economy department will be paid substantially less than Mr Hughes’s basic £205,000 salary.

Mr Hughes’s eight years in charge have seen the council reduce its workforce by a third, from 21,000 non-schools jobs to 14,000 against the backdrop of severe cuts in Government funding.

Appointed by the former Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition, Mr Hughes has often faced suspicion from some Labour councillors, and MPs. He played a prominent role between 2009 and 2012 in issuing public warnings about the likely impact of cuts on services – stating on one occasion that councils might have to return to their Victorian and Edwardian roots with only a very few public services operating.

Cover Image: http://www.stevemccabe-mp.org.uk/

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