Council bosses face axe as cuts eat away at town hall’s budget

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PLANS to reduce the number of senior officers at a Yorkshire council from 14 to nine have been drawn up by its new chief executive in a bid to save more than £200,000 and stabilise the authority’s leadership.

Several senior officers have recently left Barnsley Council, which is going through a radical cost-cutting exercise in response to Government cuts.

The programme was instigated by former chief executive Phil Coppard.

His replacement Diana Terris took over in the summer and a number of interim directors are already in place to run departments which face severe challenges, such as poor levels of performance in schools.

Mr Coppard left the authority in January this year after 36 years and it later emerged that he stepped down after losing the backing of council leader Steve Houghton and the controlling Labour group.

He had been due to retire in April, but his early departure led to some uncertainty at the top of the council, with his deputy Steve Pick taking over until Ms Terris was appointed from Warrington Council.

But Mr Pick also left his post immediately the new chief executive was appointed in July, and since then the director of children’s services, director of public health and several other top officers have gone.

In a report to Coun Houghton and his ruling cabinet, which meets this week, Ms Terris sets out her plan which she says will save money and reduce bureaucracy, without leading to redundancies and associated payouts.

She also says that, if agreed, the measures will take effect immediately, with a further review of “senior management capacity of the council in 2013-14 with a view to realigning further from April 1 2014.”

The report says: “It is essential that there is sufficient leadership and management capacity to deliver the council’s priorities during a time of unprecedented challenge for all local authorities.”

Ms Terris, who was appointed on a salary of £148,500 a year –around £10,000 a year more than her predecessor – plans to do away with the deputy chief executive role altogether and lose five assistant directors.

She then plans to employ an executive director of corporate services, on a salary of £110,000, while reshuffling the staff she has left into the remaining seven top authority jobs, some of which will be renamed.

Her report said the current senior management structure of the council, including the deputy chief executive and assistant director posts, costs £2.31m.

If the plans were accepted, it would lead to a saving of £220,000 which would contribute towards the budget shortfalls identified in the council’s medium-term financial strategy.

“In addition, there may be further savings in senior management costs when the further review has concluded,” Ms Terris added.

Another role to disappear under the proposals includes the council’s head of communications, whose responsibilities will be subsumed into a new assistant chief executive for human resources and performance.

The borough secretary role will also be axed with many of its responsibilities passing to the new executive director – who may be recruited from within or from outside the council.

According to the job description, the new role will have a wide remit, from taking control of the council’s corporate services to overseeing the health of the borough’s residents.

It says the postholder will be responsible for “ensuring that Barnsley is recognised as one of the best places to live and work in the UK, where everyone enjoys a good quality of life”.

The role will also involve “leading the council through a process of continuous improvement to deliver services that are customer-centric in the most effective and efficient manner”.