Thursday, March 18, 2010

Council Chief Executive goodbye's : are we looking in the wrong place?

The gentleman acting as chief executive of Anglsey council on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government (seems they have had a few problems to say the least) on the Today Program on Tuesday. He was justifying the sums that Council Chief Executives get as severance payments when they get pushed. It was quite enlightening to read between the lines and indeed you did not have to read too hard.

When asked why they were paid so much in general what I understood him to say was along the lines of

"we have to dance such a fine line to keep these
childish elected idiots from harming themselves
and their constituents that we bloody well deserve the money".

The payouts to get rid of the chief executives did seem very large (in
the region of 200k to 400k) but lets ask why they were leaving before
their time. The reason given was personal difference between the
senior elected Councilors and the Chief Executive. The personal
difference was that an other set of Councilors had appointed them. If
this is true, then they should both go as it would be unprofessional
of the Council Leader and in my view corrupt. If you can't build a working
relationship with an otherwise well performing Chief Executive, then
bye bye to both sides. If the C.E. is a lemon and can be shown to be,
then fair enough. Sacking for sustained underperformance is quite
reasonable, but seems to be a no-no in UK public services. Sacking for
difference of opinion is OK, very stange.

I come away untroubled by the large pay outs, but very troubled that
senior elected councilors are unable to build working relationships
and seek alternative opinion, a requirement to avoid them making
serious errors of judgement on the management of the resources they
oversee. The payouts are a costly symptom, not the root of the issue.

Very few council leaders will be more capable than their Chief
Executive, though they might be better at playing politics.

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