TWO of the main players in the now defunct Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation have agreed to pay back £60,000 to the public purse.
Niall Lindsay, the former chief executive, and Sean O’Donnell, the director of finance, have agreed terms with Thurrock Council to give back the money, which had been paid to them in lieu of notice and other expenses.
A government probe into the Development Corporation revealed the pair had taken payments for not working their notice and how staff were sent for patchwork, pottery and jewellery making lessons – all at the taxpayers’ expense.
The Development Corporation, set up to drive through housing and infrastructure projects, closed in October 2012 and its duties were absorbed by Thurrock Council.
Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price sits on the public accounts committee which flagged up the discrepancies. She said Thurrock council was entirely right to pursue the money.
Ms Doyle-Price added: “All public servants need to remember that they are responsible to taxpayers for the monies that they spend.
“It is simply not on for anyone to give themselves a golden handshake in this way. I am only disappointed that it took legal action and no doubt costs to Thurrock Council to get this money back.”
Council Chief executive Graham Farrant said after the out-of-court settlement : “The money will be repaid to the council so it can be used to support economic growth in Thurrock.”
Lindsay will repay £37,000 - O’Donnell £29,000.