A controversial council chief who was in charge of making £14.6 million of cuts to children’s services has quit her job – after pocketing a whopping £350,000 pay off.
Dr Sharon Menghini, stepped down from her role at cash-strapped Stoke-on-Trent City Council and received a £174,000 golden goodbye from the authority.
The pay-out, combined with £151,515 income and expenses and £22,953 in pension contributions, took Dr Menghini’s total pay packet for 2011/12 to £348,218.
Her pay-day is a wallet-busting £206,218 more than PM David Cameron’s annual salary.
It comes as the council oversees cuts of £24 million across the city, following £35.6 million savings last year, with children’s services facing a £3.5 million overspend.
Dr Menghini’s payout made her the city’s most expensive officer last year – even topping the £223,203 in salary, expenses and pension payments claimed by chief executive John van de Laarschot.
She oversaw cuts of £9.5 million in 2011/12 and £5.1 million for the current financial year, including botched plans to shut seven children’s centres which instead saw all 16 centres hit with major cutbacks.
Dr Menghini is now running her own consultancy firm, ‘Sharon Menghini Education & Children Services Consultancy’, and lists “implementing budget cuts” among her expertise.
Independent councillor Dave Conway was responsible for examining the cutbacks in his role as chairman of the children’s services scrutiny committee.
He said: “Along with the protesters, we fought tooth and nail to reduce the cuts to children’s centres.
“We were told every penny had to be saved. Now we find she has walked away with this astronomical amount.
“It is the sort of money that most people can only dream of.”
The council axed Dr Menghini’s post after she quit, and pooled the management of children’s services and adult social care in April.
Tony Oakman is now in charge of a merged ‘People’ directorate, although Eleanor Brazil has been appointed as an interim director of children’s services.
And Mr van de Laarschot has also now hired assistant chief executive Charlie Stewart on £132,000-a-year.
Cuts to children’s centres this year include in-house teachers losing their jobs and £1 charges introduced for previously free sessions like baby massage groups.
Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Golden goodbyes on this scale completely undermine the savings councils are having to find.
“When the council has doled out such a vast sum to Dr Menghini merely for quitting her job, taxpayers have every right to feel utterly cheated.”
The council said the changes to the People directorate will be completed within a year.
New Chief Executive Charlie Stewart said: “The post of director of children and young people’s services has been deleted and we expect the transitional arrangements to be completed in the next 12 months, which will also save a director-level salary.”