AT a time when the public purse strings are so tight, it appears unfortunate to say the least, that councillors are handing out golden goodbyes to senior members of staff.

While the dedication and work of those receiving the redundancy packages is not being questioned, giving sums approaching £350,000 to a single member of staff is likely to provoke resentment.

The Government’s announcement of a £95,000 exit payment cap last year, has been well received. It is notable that while Hambleton District Council has paid out £757,000 this year, only one other local authority has made an exit payment of above the incoming cap.

Hambleton council has suggested its compensation figures include payments not included in the cap, that its management restructuring will create long-term savings for the authority and that it was contractually forced to pay the sums.

Many may wonder if the payments were obligatory, why councillors were given a vote on whether to approve them and why the authority has not already changed its policy.

THE thorny issue of how NHS funding is distributed has reared its head again. The gulf in life expectancy rates across the region has sparked calls for greater NHS funding in County Durham. At the same time, those deciding how NHS funds are spent in an area of North Yorkshire rated to have the sixth highest life expectancy in the country are having to take drastic measures, refusing surgery to obese people, just to balance their books.

Such issues clearly do not bode well for the future of the NHS.