Chief executive role at council is to remain vacant

Harborough District Council leader Blake Pain
Harborough District Council leader Blake Pain

Cash-strapped Harborough District Council has come up with a solution to the problem of how to replace their chief executive – they’re going to manage without one.

A highly-paid head civil servant is a luxury that the council can no longer afford, the local authority’s leader Blake Pain has told the Mail.

He said: “In fact, it’s a luxury that most small authorities can’t afford, not just Harborough.”

Instead, the job will be shared between two existing senior officers, Beverley Jolly and Norman Proudfoot.

The leader’s announcement comes after the council has managed for four months without a chief executive, since Anna Graves left.

The former chief executive earned a financial package that added up more than £115,000 a year.

Cllr Pain has already warned that 2015-16 will be Harborough Council’s toughest financial year yet.

Up to £1.6m may have to be cut from the council’s total budget of under £11m.

Cllr Pain said: “Local government is always moving and at the moment we’re under significant pressure to make savings and efficiencies.

“And so far, I’m very happy with the model we’ve employed with two excellent directors sharing a chief executive role on a rotating basis.

“So we won’t be recruiting another permanent chief executive under my leadership.”

Lib Dem opposition leader Cllr Phil Knowles said: “Clearly there are financial constraints on the council.

“I want to see evidence that this change to the council’s structure is not going to be something the council will have problems with and won’t impact on services.

“And I want to see if there are savings here that can be used in other services.”

Rob Tinlin, chairman of the Association of Local Authority Chief Executives, said: “I can see where Harborough is coming from, but this is a fairly unusual move. I only know of seven or eight councils across the whole country without a chief executive.

“And the issue can come to a head where difficult decisions have to be made, or strong advice given to the politicians, about subjects such as budget cuts.”