A row has broken out over the value of the newly-departed Hammersmith and Fulham Council chief executive's pension.
Geoff Alltimes left his post last week with what is thought to have been a six-figure lump sum plus an annual pension in excess of £100,000.
Opposition Labour politicians called the 63-year-old's package 'obscene' in the current financial climate. But the council, while refusing to reveal the exact value of the pay-off, hit back, saying anyone who believes Mr Alltimes was undeserving of the package is living in 'cloud cuckoo land'.
Mr Alltimes joined the authority in 1976 in the social services office before climbing his way to the top. He left after a structural change that will see Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea share the former's CEO, Derek Myers.
The council says the move will save taxpayers £200,000 per year on top of the £800,000 already saved by the slashing of other senior posts, proving its commitment to seeking 'value for money' for taxpayers. But Labour said it was another example of the council wasting public money, following on from recent revelations it spent at least £1.2m on hiring consultants as well as 'needlessly' employing a managing director to work alongside its new CEO.
Opposition leader Stephen Cowan enlisted the help of the House of Commons Library to estimate Mr Alltimes' pension pay-off, which it says, based on his last basic salary of £226,000 and his 35 years service, would result in an annual pension of £104,000 in addition to a one-off payment of £270,000.
Mr Cowan said the package was 'way over the top' and that Mr Alltimes, whose high earnings were regularly criticised throughout his tenure as CEO, should make a donation to the borough's pension fund. "Given that people in this borough are facing job losses, they will think these figures are amazing.
"People in the borough and up and down the country work hard all their life and achieve more without these sort of rewards. I think this shows how out of touch this council is."
Labour MP Andy Slaughter added: "This betrays the profligacy and unfairness of a Tory administration which has spent the last two years sacking two thousand workers."
Some Chronicle readers took to Twitter to criticise the authority. @LondonLadybird wrote: "It's quite unnecessary, especially in this climate. Did he do anything amazing, like saving lives?"
@Smithware said: "After someone has been paid most of the money in the world, do they really need to take the rest?" But there was support for Mr Alltimes from @bonkersrob, who said: "If that was his salary and he has done 30 years plus then he deserves it. He could probably have got more in the private sector."
A council spokesman said the structure of Mr Alltimes' leaving package was no different to that given to employees of any other organisation and that is has no say in the value of it.
"Mr Alltimes has not retired early, he has worked beyond the date at which he was entitled to choose to retire under the local government pension scheme. This is a national scheme - the council has no discretion over its rules. His retirement is at no additional cost to the council. If anyone is seriously suggesting that after 35 years of dedicated public service in Hammersmith & Fulham that Mr Alltimes is not entitled to the pension that he spent three decades paying into they are living in cloud cuckoo land."