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Harrow Borough Council report identifies 'lack of engagement' in removal of chief executive position
Councillors scrutinising a decision to scrap Harrow Borough Council's chief executive position say the move was made "with little engagement".
Harrow Borough Council’s special overview and scrutiny committee last night reviewed a report by a cross-party challenge panel into proposals to get rid of the position.
The committee agreed there was a need for change in the management of the council.
However it also suggested the proposal to delete the post of chief executive lacked the level of engagement they felt such a significant decision requires.
Concerns were also raised about the possible future managerial structure of the council and the impact it could have on the organisation when it is dealing with cuts to frontline services.
Cllr Bill Phillips, who led the panel, said: “It was clear from the discussion and report at the committee that the Tory administration’s decision to scrap the role of chief exec was done without consulting the public or any members of staff.
“In contrast, the Labour group believes it is essential that the council should be completely transparent, widely consult the public before any major decisions and always run the council in the best interests of the public.”
In October last year leader of the council Susan Hall announced plans to get rid of the role as a cost saving measure.
In November, Harrow Council’s chief executive Michael Lockwood announced he would leave his role after a deal made at meeting of the chief officer’s employment panel.
The report highlights fourteen other councils which have deleted the role of chief executive in recent years.
Nine of these councils, including Bristol City Council, Guildford Borough Council and Reading Borough Council, have replaced them with managing directors.
Others have given the responsibilities of the chief executive to officers within the existing senior management such as Salford Council and West Lancashire District Council.
The report also pointed out the removal of the post was not a reflection of the former chief executive Michael Lockwood.
It said: “These discussions with regard to the future of the post he occupied do not suggest a shortcoming in his capacity, but reflect a need to consider alternative managerial structures.”
After last night’s committee meeting, the report will now go to the council cabinet next week to be considered before a decision on the role will be made.
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