December 11 2013 Latest news:
Monday, November 4, 2013
A u-turn on the title of the top officer at Norfolk County Council has been completed today, after the ruling cabinet agreed a new management structure which includes a chief executive.
In January, the council confirmed the post of chief executive would be replaced by a new role of managing director, with an increased focus on generating cash through a more commercially-driven approach.
That change meant the former chief executive David White, having said it had become “crystal clear” he lacked the necessary skills for that role, was made redundant in April. The total cost of Mr White’s departure to the authority was £163,700.
Anne Gibson, the council’s head of HR, became the interim managing director following his departure, but, following May’s elections the new administration put the hunt for a new managing director on ice.
And today, Ms Gibson presented her recommendations for the new management structure at the council, which switches back to a chief executive at the top.
In her report, she stated that, since the decision to appoint a managing director had been made, the context for public services had worsened.
She said: “Given the particular requirements demanded by democratically elected councils for its senior manager to have the skills and ability required to lead and manage a complex organisation within a political environment, most commonly, large authorities have chosen to bring in separately the commercial best practice, skills and knowledge from other sectors necessary to assist them.
“In addition, also since then, the election results of May 2013, now see the county council in a situation of no overall control. This would now indicate the need to place a stronger emphasis on ensuring its chief officer is able to lead, manage and focus as necessary on the management issues associated with a complex political environment.”
She said the review had “reviewed and reframed the balance between the broader duties and commercial objectives” of the authority’s most senior role.
George Nobbs, council leader, said: “I am relaxed about whether it’s a chief executive or a managing director title. What matters is providing services for people of Norfolk and it goes without saying that those concerned about the commercial aspect, we will expect the head of the paid service to be efficient and business-like when it comes to maximising income.”
Bill Borrett, leader of the Conservative group, accused his opponents of “grandstanding” over the managing director post in the past.
He said: “They voted down our proposal about the necessity for commercial acumen in the role, but, four or five months on and I think they have realised there’s no other future without commercial acumen. I think they are changing the name to something different, but it’s really what we proposed before.”
With the council looking to make £189m of savings over the next three years, 500 jobs are set to go over the next two years and more could follow.
In Mrs Gibson’s report, it states that the changes will lead to the loss of one post in the senior management team and further changes, including redundancies, in posts below chief officers.