HEREFORDSHIRE Council funded a five figure pension contribution to the chief executive of Hereford Futures Ltd (HFL).

Papers prepared for a meeting of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee on Monday (March 10) show that in the year ending March 2013 HFL made a pension contribution of £31,392 to chief executive Jonathan Bretherton, compared to the contribution of £12,667 in the previous financial year.

The council concedes that as, to all intents, the sole funder of HFL since 2012 it had, in effect, funded the payment.

But the payment, the council says, was a HFL decision recommended by the remuneration committee and sanctioned by the HFL Board.

The council says it was for the HFL Board to determine how the company rewards its Chief Executive and he had advised officers that he exercised a contractual option to waive salary and to take payment as an additional pension contribution instead.

Herefordshire Council is seeking confirmation from Worcestershire County Council, which administered its pension fund, as to whether there are any residual liabilities in respect of the HFL Chief Executive’s pension.

Questions – and concern – over pension liabilities were raised when the council confirmed in May last year that HFL was to be wound up.

HFL was admitted to the council’s pension fund despite its status as an “arm’s length” company not covered by Freedom of Information (FoI) regulations with the council acting as guarantor.