£219,000 golden handshake for WECA boss

THE West of England Combined Authority’s top official has left the organisation with a £219,000 golden handshake, it has been announced.

Chief executive Patricia Greer had been on sick leave since last November but officially parted company with the organisation on August 31.

Her departure comes two months after the Local Democracy Reporting Service revealed that WECA, which has responsibility for transport, strategic planning, skills and business support in South Gloucestershire, Bristol, and Bath & North East Somerset, was paying two chief executives at the same time for at least seven months.

Dr Greer remained on full salary while Richard Ennis received £124,467 as acting interim for the four months between December 1 last year and March 31 this year, which is as far as the annual accounts go.

The payoff for Dr Greer, who had a salary of £164,682 in the year to the end of March, plus £23,550 in employer’s pension contributions, equates to 16 months’ pay.

The announcement was made by the combined authority in a short press release.

It said: “The chief executive of the West of England Combined Authority, Dr Patricia Greer, will be leaving her role today.

“Dr Greer was instrumental in establishing the combined authority and in securing significant funding for the region, in excess of £2 billion.

“Dr Greer is receiving a payment of £219,000.”

It is understood that Mr Ennis is continuing in the role on a temporary basis while the process to find a permanent replacement gets underway.

Mr Ennis was paid a total of £268,410 for three senior temporary roles he held at WECA from April 2022 to the end of March.

That figure is what he received and does not include the additional money WECA paid to a third party – likely to be a recruitment agency – for his services.

Councillors on the cross-party audit committee expressed concerns in July that the authority, had been paying two chief executives at the same time.

Mr Ennis stepped up to Dr Greer’s position on an interim basis at the start of December, from his previous role as interim director of investment and corporate services.

As an agency worker or contractor, Mr Ennis does not receive pension contributions, paid holiday or sick leave.

Dr Greer was appointed WECA’s first chief executive, the most senior officer, when the organisation was formed in 2017.

By Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service