No comment on golden handshake

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Steven Mason
Steven Mason

OFFICIALS at Northumberland County Council are remaining tight-lipped over the size of the golden handshake for its former chief executive.

Steven Mason left his post with immediate effect last month after a landmark election win by the Conservatives, prompting speculation over the severance package linked to his departure, with one source quoting a total figure of £1.5m.

Despite failing to respond to requests from the Hexham Courant for a comment, Mr Mason said in a statement issued by the council that he was leaving the organisation to “pursue fresh challenges.”

“The council’s approach and direction will change significantly following the recent county council election and it is an appropriate time for new managerial leadership.” he said.

The polarised views of Mr Mason and the council’s new Conservative leader, Peter Jackson, on key issues such as the project to build a new County Hall in Ashington, have been no secret.

Meanwhile, Mr Mason’s failure to respond to the public backlash over his controversial ban on legal notices in the Courant prompted many to conclude his position was untenable.

A council spokeswoman said this week: “We don’t comment on the circumstances of individual members of staff. However we can say that the details of senior officers’ remuneration is published as a matter of course in the annual statement of accounts.”

When asked to confirm whether Mr Mason’s wife, Helen, had also left her post as manager at Ponteland Leisure Centre, officials at Active Northumberland said they were unable to comment.

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