When we retire, we hope to live a long and happy life on our pension and wile away our days in the sun. Typically that never happens because retirement is further away than ever before because of government overspending and changes to keep the cannon-fodder on the treadmill for longer.
Unless, of course, you are a chief executive of a local council which is billed as being “bonkers”, namely Bexley. When Nick Johnson took six months off from his job as chief executive of Bexley Council, he eventually retired on a £50,000 pension after being assessed as “permanently unfit” in November 2007.
Almost immediately however, he miraculously recovered and was able to take on a consultancy role with Hammersmith and Fulham council charging them £950 a day as full-time consultant responsible for running their 17,000 properties.
This temporary role lasted three years but by February 2008 he was appointed interim chief executive of Hammersmith and Fulham Homes (H&F Homes) and Mr Johnson has been paid £830,000 through his company since 2007 which of course follows his retirement from Bexley Council due to his “permanent” condition which makes him “unfit” and after a six month period during which Mr Johnson was paid by Bexley rate payers but could not deliver any work for the salary he no doubt continued to draw.
It is believed that Nick Johnson received a payout of £300,000 upon leaving Bexley Council. H&F Homes was scrapped in April 2011 by Hammersmith and Fulham Council in a move that it claims will save them £400,000 a year. While running H&F Homes, contracts for sheltered housing services were awarded to Notting Hill Housing, a London housing association run by Mr Johnson’s partner, Ms Davies although there is apparently no suggestion of impropriety or a conflict of interest – yeah right, only in local government.
Despite earning this money at a time when he was retired due to ill-health and following a sick period of six months, and continuing to collect on his state funded pension of £50,000, the Audit Commission who is supposedly looking into the matter say that there is “no suggestion of wrongdoing” although the matter has been referred to HM Revenue and Customs.
Town Hall pensions cost every council tax-paying household over £300 a year in hard-earned money yet there are no suggestions that anything wrong has been done. It may be that there was nothing illegal about Mr Johnson’s activities but there is something morally wrong about the whole situation, not least of which is the cost to the residents of Bexley who are being asked to fork out £300 a year so that these types can live it up while they themselves have to count every penny.