We must have a chief executive, says county council leader

CHIEF TO STAY: Worcestershire County Council leader Adrian Hardman says the authority will never be without a chief executive under his leadership. SP

CHIEF TO STAY: Worcestershire County Council leader Adrian Hardman says the authority will never be without a chief executive under his leadership. SP

First published in News

THE leader of Worcestershire County Council has revealed his reasons for not 'sharing' or even going without a chief executive - saying it would be wrong for a politician to have so much power.

Councillor Adrian Hardman says unlike an increasing number of town halls around the country, his authority will never be without a top boss under his leadership.

Bromsgrove District Council and Redditch Borough Council share chief executive Kevin Dicks, receiving £124,000 in the role last year.

Current chief executive at the county council, Clare Marchant, is on £151,000 per year and only took over in June after Trish Haines retired.

At the time the Conservative leadership did briefly consider sharing a chief executive, but privately decided against it.

Cllr Hardman has now revealed he thinks the idea would be "nuts".

"Some councils have moved in this direction but I think actually looking after the delivery of services is quite different from democratic accountability," he said.

"It also puts a lot of responsibility and power into the hands of one politician.

"In some councils you might have a leader who is quite a capable of doing it himself, but not all.

"Here in Worcestershire we're quite fortunate to have young, talented people around the leadership but that's not the case everywhere."

He said making the change could also prove risky as leaders do change and in some upper tier councils, it is not uncommon to have politicians leading them in their 70s.

Tory-controlled Wiltshire Council went without a chief executive completely in 2011, leaving more responsibility in the hands of its directors and political leadership.

Rugby Council then did the same, and more locally district councils in Wychavon and Malvern are considering sharing one between them.

Cllr Hardman also says he does not see any further reductions in the number of County Hall directors, which now stands at four.

The current quartet of directors all earn more than £100,000 a year in basic pay, down from five one year ago.

"There comes a point where it's difficult to make more serious squeezes," he said.

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