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Great Yarmouth Borough Council chief executive undergoing treatment for cancer

PUBLISHED: 10:53 10 January 2014 | UPDATED: 10:54 10 January 2014

Jane Ratcliffe. Picture: James Bass

Jane Ratcliffe. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2013

Great Yarmouth Borough Council will next week consider options to temporarily cover the work of its chief executive, Jane Ratcliffe, who is now seriously ill with cancer.

A special meeting of the borough council’s cabinet will take place on Tuesday to discuss three short-term options to ensure the statutory and strategic duties of her role are fulfilled in her absence.

Mrs Ratcliffe, who was appointed to the permanent post in January 2013, has not been at work full-time since late November, and is expected to remain on leave for the next three to six months to undergo treatment.

On Tuesday, cabinet will consider three options for providing the necessary temporary management cover during this period. Full council, which is scheduled to meet as normal on Tuesday, will then be asked to endorse the decision.

The options are:

1. The recruiting of an interim full-time replacement of the post of CEO;

2. One of the borough council’s existing three directors “acts up” to provide full-time cover of the chief executive’s duties;

3. Or temporary, part-time cover is provided through a seconded chief executive.

The recommended option is to approve the temporary appointment of an interim chief executive for a minimum of three months and a maximum of six.

It is proposed that Laura McGillivray, the chief executive of Norwich City Council, would provide this temporary cover for two days a week, while continuing in her existing post. This would not affect the day-to-day operation of the city council.

If approved, this arrangement could come into effect from January 20. It would also require approval from Norwich City Council’s cabinet on Wednesday, January 15. Unison has been officially informed of all options.

Councillor Trevor Wainwright, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said: “Firstly, I and all the councillors and staff would like to extend our heart-felt sympathies to Jane Ratcliffe and her family during this very difficult time.

“In terms of the strategic running of the borough council, Jane’s skills, experience and constant oversight have proved vital to its strategic success, and her absence is keenly felt at the Town Hall.

“Cabinet will consider thoroughly all three options to cover the three to six months she is expected to be away. However, the executive management team advise that the most effective option is to temporarily appoint an interim CEO, for two days a week.

“This would allow the borough council to benefit from the expertise and oversight of an existing chief executive from a neighbouring council, with whom the borough council already has a strong working relationship.

“And it would also enable the existing directors to continue to focus day-to-day on developing and delivering high quality services, rather than one director having to instead take on the chief executive’s duties full-time, which would require work to be covered by others further down the management structure.”

Councillor Brenda Arthur, leader of Norwich City Council, said: “I would like to send our very best wishes to Jane Ratcliffe and wish her well during her absence.

“Clearly these are extremely unusual circumstances and given that we already have an excellent working relationship with colleagues in Great Yarmouth I am pleased that as a neighbouring council, we are able to offer some temporary cover through Laura.

“We have a very strong management team in Norwich. Our deputy chief executive, supported by colleagues, will be able to provide any necessary cover in Norwich for this short period.”

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