Resort council becomes latest to axe top jobs as cuts hit home

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Senior managers at a Yorkshire council are set to be axed in the latest major restructuring to hit the region as local authorities struggle to balance their books.

Scarborough Borough Council announced yesterday it was planning to abolish four senior management posts as spending pressures mount in the wake of the Government’s austerity measures and tough economic climate.

Other local authorities in the region also face major restructuring in moves to try to streamline operations.

Tony Clark, the ex-deputy chief executive, has been formerly appointed as managing director of Richmondshire District Council at a meeting this week. The move comes as the Richmondshire authority looks to separate key services that it had shared with Hambleton District Council, saving £2.6m over the last three years.

Both district authorities have decided to scale back the pioneering initiative after Hambleton announced it was ending an arrangement where one chief executive oversaw both councils.

Meanwhile, Harrogate councillors will meet next week to discuss plans to restructure the management of its planning and development division in a move that could save £439,000. The Borough Council’s cabinet human resources committee, which meets on Wednesday, will be asked to endorse the proposals which include combining the roles of the chief planner, development control and chief planner, forward planning into a single role and reducing the management posts in one department from six to three.

In Scarborough, the proposed changes will result in the loss of both existing strategic director positions and the removal of all the existing heads of service posts. The old structure will be replaced by a new role of deputy chief executive and three new senior posts, which will form the new senior management team, leading to a loss of four senior posts in real terms. The authority said the savings required have now reached a stage that can only be achieved by a more streamlined organisational structure and savings on salaries.

The predicted amount the council will have to save in 2013/14 has risen from £2.5m to £3.2m, putting greater pressure on the need for savings.

The main reasons are a predicted cut in the Government grant settlement, the potential impact of a further council tax grant freeze and a lower than expected level of income as spending by both residents and visitors in the borough has dropped in the last year.

The amount council bosses need to save could further increase as the authority will not be advised of its Government grant settlement for the next financial year until late December.

Chief executive Jim Dillon said: “As a result of the significant savings we are having to make, the council needs to re-design the way it is managed to take advantage of new ways of working and harness benefits from adopting new technology and more cost efficient ways of delivering high quality services.

“The senior management re-structure is part of this process and while job losses are always regrettable, they are unfortunately unavoidable in the current climate.”

The restructure has been announced following initial consultation with cabinet members, political group leaders and trade unions. Further work will continue over the next two months to identify enough savings in order to achieve a balanced budget for 2013/14 and beyond, according to the council. It is anticipated a number of the authority’s other posts at a senior level will also be reviewed in the weeks ahead.

A council spokeswoman said it was not in a position at the moment to say how many posts this will affect but it will be one of the first tasks of the new senior management team to manage the process. A full council meeting will be asked to ratify the changes next January as part of the budget process.