Chief Executive Named at Ealing Council Meeting
'Personality clash' at Tower Hamlets was behind his departure
Ealing councillors approved the appointment of Martin Smith as the authority’s next Chief Executive at a meeting last night.
Martin was until recently Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets Council in East London and left earlier this year after some controversy. He will succeed Darra Singh, who leaves Ealing following it being awarded Best Achieving Council 2009 (by Municipal Journal magazine) to become Chief Executive of JobCentre Plus and second Permanent Secretary at the Department for Work and Pensions.
Councillor Jason Stacey, Leader of Ealing Council, said: “Martin has an excellent record of achievement in local government. I'm delighted we've attracted him to Ealing and am confident that his experience and drive will prove invaluable in the Council achieving even higher resident satisfaction.”
Martin Smith said: "There's no bigger challenge than improving a Council that is already rated one of the best in the country. But having already met some of Ealing’s councillors and officers I am confident that we can rise to that challenge and am looking forward to making Ealing an even better Borough.”
According to reports earlier this year, Mr Smith walked away from his previous job as Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets Council with a £500,000 pay-off after being forced out over a personality clash.
The pay-off, was more than he was paid in the two years he served as chief executive, when he earned more than £200,000 a year.
Apparently Mr Smith became caught up in a bitter personal dispute with the council leader, Lutfur Rahman.
At a showdown meeting Mr Rahman told Mr Smith: “I have no confidence in you and suggest you go home and consider your future.”
The pay-off caused a major row between the ruling Labour group and Conservative councillors at Tower Hamlets. The Tory opposition claim Mr Rahman has engineered the ousting of the chief executive to bring in his ally, Lutfur Rahman Ali. (No relation of Lutfur Rahman).
There were allegations from the Conservatives that Mr Rahman was involved in “cronyism”, spending large sums of taxpayers' money to achieve it.
At the time, Tory Councillor Phil Briscoe said: “As a councillor in Tower Hamlets, I am ashamed that I am linked to such a disgraceful abuse of power.”
According to reports, Mr Smith, 48, was unavailable to comment on the matter after he signed a confidentiality agreement.
Alistair Robertson, of the Association of Local Authority Chief Executives, said: “The leader decided he wanted a new chief executive but they do not have valid grounds to dismiss Martin.”
Mr Smith will remain eligible for a substantial pension. He started in local government at 16 and has held senior posts with Redbridge Council and the Lea Valley Park Authority.
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the Taxpayer's Alliance, said: “His pay off will be almost three times the Prime Minister's salary, which really emphasises how absurd it really is.”
The row was one of several to hit Tower Hamlets over its use of its budget.
Despite being one of London's poorest, an Evening Standard survey revealed that last year that 15 members of staff at the council were paid six figure sums.
At the time, it was reported in Private Eye that at a Council meeting after Mr Smith had left, councillors were told they were not allowed to talk about the ex-chief executive by name.
October 21, 2009