Ryedale council in North Yorkshire set for dramatic overhaul as chief executive says it's "not fit for purpose"

The biggest overhaul of a North Yorkshire council in decades is set to be enforced after the authority’s new chief executive admitted that the current structure was no longer fit for purpose in the wake of bullying allegations.

Keane Duncan, the leader of Ryedale council, is the youngest leader of any local authority in the country
Keane Duncan, the leader of Ryedale council, is the youngest leader of any local authority in the country

The new streamlined structure to be introduced at Ryedale District Council has been agreed by councillors after the wide-ranging restructuring masterminded by chief executive Stacey Burlet.

Meetings are under way with staff working across the council’s departments to help shape the new structure after Ms Burlet admitted that “critical attention” was needed to dramatically revise the current system.

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Issues which have been identified as key to the overhaul include restructuring the present system, which Ms Burlet claimed is “not fit for purpose”, as well as resolving allegations of bullying and intimidating behaviour which have plagued the council in recent years.

New measures to combat bullying include an internal communications campaign, mental health awareness and training and leadership development sessions.

The overhaul is also aimed at strengthening the governance of the council, which covers one of the biggest geographical areas of any local authority, as well as its “role as an employer”, according to the chief executive.

She said Ryedale District Council has been “drawing a number of historical matters to conclusion”, and added: “The organisation has faced a series of challenges over the last five years regarding staffing development matters.”

Two of the biggest issues which are being tackled through the review are Ryedale’s economic growth and housing amid long-running concerns over the cost of homes in the district.

Latest figures from the National Housing Federation have shown that the average property in Ryedale costs £242,596, while the average wage in the district is just £23,875. More resources are now being put into both areas, including two new 12-month posts to deal with rough sleepers and rapid rehousing.

The long-running issues surround bullying at the authority led to the council agreeing to fund an inquiry into the problems. In July 2017, when the council agreed to use £10,000 to finance a report on the issue, a staff survey revealed that about a third of employees were aware of bullying at the authority.

Tory council leader Keane Duncan, at 24 the youngest person in the country to lead a local authority, welcomed the shake-up.

He said: “The council’s workforce is its most valuable asset. We value the contribution of every staff member and want to create a great place to work. Over the past year we’ve been boosting capacity in the areas that need it most, resolving historical issues, strengthening governance and improving communications.”