Sunday 30 October 2011

Why H&F’s Opposition Voted Against Appointing The Council’s New Chief Executive

It’s a straight forward management decision: Does H&F Council need a Chief Executive on £300,000.00 a year as well as a Managing Director on £200.000.00 a year? At the last Full Council Meeting my Labour Opposition colleagues and I voted “against” that unnecessary proposal and said "no we don't".

Before doing that, we had asked the Conservative Administration and its officials for details of all the objective analysis that had been carried out that led them to determine that the tax payers of our Borough needed to pay for both of these almost duplicate positions. Here’s what we found:
  • No good practice models had been followed in determining the need for both the CEO and MD post
  • No independent advice was sought from any possible critical friends in other local authorities, the Local Government Association, the government or academia
  • No cost benefit analysis was carried out on the likely benefits of having both a CEO and MD
  • H&F Council admitted that it hadn’t undertaken any objective analysis and hadn't followed any recognised methodologies when coming up with this highly unusual senior exec job structure. 
These jobs had simply been negotiated amongst officials in private back-room deals and signed off by Conservative councillors in the relevant boroughs. That wouldn't happen in a large organisation genuinely committed to getting value for money - especially in these difficult times.

To be fair, our council will be sharing its new Chief Executive with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. That means we will get that person’s time and energy for about two and a half days a week for a cost of £150,000.00 a year. Consider that Hackney is a much larger London Borough but it pays their Chief Executive £180,000.00 a year. It begs the question couldn’t we have done better?

Local government needs to modernise. It is not acceptable that jobs should be fixed in private deals that side step best practice. Our Council particularly needs to learn from the very best companies in the private sector so it can better manage its staff and its resources.

Should Labour win power in 2014 we will delete the CEO’s post and just have an MD. We will also strip out up to ten per cent of assistant director positions and cut back the senior directors to just four. The money we save will be used to cut taxes and fund front line services such as extra police and better youth facilities.

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