POLL: Council chief's 'golden goodbye' package of £200k
The former chief executive of the Council of the Isles of Scilly pocketed more than £200,000 after taking early retirement following 20 years in the post, it has emerged.
Philip Hygate's "golden goodbye" totalling £204,000 included a payment equal to a year's salary, removal costs and a generous sum added to his pension pot, according to the council's annual accounts.
Mr Hygate, pictured, who stepped down in January after taking the helm in 1992, has long been a controversial figure in the island community of 2,200 residents.
In October last year he was suspended to allow an investigation into his conduct in relation to Bryce Wilby, the headteacher of the islands' only school, who was suspended last May then quit.
The council refused to publish details of Mr Hygate's settlement when his departure was announced, and it was not forthcoming following Freedom of Information requests tabled by the Western Morning News.
Now the authority's statement of accounts has finally revealed the full extent of Mr Hygate's "exit package".
The report, which stated the chief executive took early retirement on the "grounds of efficiency", detailed how the deal included a £91,000 payment to his pension fund for the early release of pension payments, an £88,800 payment equivalent to a year's pay and £14,000 for removal costs. The package was rounded off by a £10,000 hand-out for outplacement and retraining.
The settlement is on top of the £82,648 total remuneration for 2012/13, which included salary and pension contributions.
The pay-out risks angering residents on the archipelago where the average wage is well below the national average at around £17,000, yet with house prices rivalling London, and islanders pay higher charges for food and supplies imported from the mainland.
While Mr Hygate was suspended "as a neutral act", it came amid concerns about a "climate of fear" in the islands.
Louise Graham, a member of the group Heart, which campaigns for openness on the Isles of Scilly, said the pay-off was scandalous: "The whole thing about Philip Hygate is outrageous. He should be investigated, not paid off.
"My attitude is that this is another opportunity for the council to just pay someone off. When I have asked questions about this, they have said that it's just the easiest option. In my view it is not an option they should be taking."
In a statement released by the local authority on his departure, Mr Hygate said: "It has been a privilege to be part of such a special place and to have contributed to securing its well-being and potential. I wish Scilly the best for the future."