Harrow Borough Council's ruling Labour group last week announced it would be consulting staff on reinstating the authority's chief executive post, only months after the previous Tory administration axed the job. This week, the leaders of both groups set out their positions.
Leader of the council Cllr David Perry writes: “In November 2013, the then leader of the Council Susan Hall deleted the post of chief executive with absolute minimal consultation in a knee-jerk reaction to save money and put in place the current interim senior management arrangement of a joint head of paid service and corporate director. Overnight, the Tory Administration destabilised Harrow Council, which to this day has operated with a void at the top of the organisation.
The Labour Party in Harrow stood on a platform of consultation and engagement at the recent elections and we also gave a commitment to start a review of the senior management arrangements within the first 30 days of our administration, if elected. We understand this is a critically important decision, as effective officer leadership is essential to find and deliver the £75m of Tory Government cuts, imposed on the people of Harrow, over the next four years. So, unlike the previous administration, we are seeking the views of all councillors and all council affiliated staff, combined totalling nearly 5,000 people.
We have met with senior council staff to ask for their professional guidance on a range of potential senior management options, which included
• Sharing a chief executive with another council
• Creating a new head of paid service role such as managing director, borough manager or chief operating officer
• Sharing the role between the corporate directors.
Having considered the potential options, we have decided to move forward with the following options, on which we now want to consult you to get your views:
Option 1: Appointing a chief executive This would mean reinstating the post of chief executive, who would also be the council’s head of paid service.
Option 2: Making permanent the current interim arrangement of a joint head of paid service and corporate director This would mean permanently appointing one of the corporate directors to carry out the head of paid service role, in addition to their corporate director role.
All the responses will be fed back for the Labour administration to review and for a recommendation to be brought to cabinet in September outlining a way forward. No final decisions will be made until all responses have been analysed.
In order to stabilise the council, the current interim arrangements will remain in place until a permanent appointment is made.
I am pleased that staff have responded well to this consultation and are taking the opportunity to contribute. The Tories in Harrow continue to play party political games with this issue and must remember that the future success of the council is important and I for one feel the people of Harrow made the correct decision not to trust the Tories at the May elections, and elected a positive Labour vision for the future of our borough.”