TWO men will do the jobs of three at Gloucester City Council after it was decided that former chief executive Julian Wain would not be replaced.
The move will save £110,000 – but there are fears that it may put too much strain on the two men at the top of the organisation.
Peter Gillett, corporate director for resources, and Martin Shields, corporate director for neighbourhoods and services, will now share the top job between them.
Mr Wain left the local authority last month just weeks after he hit the headlines when Private Eye published details of his partner Sadie Neal’s appointment to a £51,000-a-year city council job. A review found no wrongdoing in the process of her appointment.
His swift departure left the organisation headless and an emergency item was put before councillors last week in which they were asked to approve a trial six-month period in which he would not be replaced.
With huge savings to be enjoyed, it is unlikely that the decision will be reversed by the administration.
Councillors approved the trial, but some have reservations about the impact it might have on Mr Gillett and Mr Shields.
Councillor Mary Smith (L, Robinswood) urged for a careful review in six months time of how the system coped.
Council bosses have pointed to Wiltshire where council leader Jane Scott OBE axed the post of chief executive, which led to Andrew Kerr’s departure.
Talk of sharing a chief executive role with one of Gloucestershire’s other authorities was dismissed as less favourable.
Councillor Fred Wood, cabinet member for performance and resources, said: “This administration looked at other options too such as sharing a chief executive with other local authorities. We never shy away from make difficult decisions.”
But the decision comes after a review carried out by a team of local authority experts expressed concerns about staffing changes.
Chris Bowron, programme manager for peer support at the Local Government Association, said: “There is seen to have been almost constant organisational change over recent years and there is substantial anxiety and uncertainty amongst staff. The situation has been compounded by a lack of clarity about the future shape and priorities of the council.
“The issue has been further exacerbated by what staff feel is insufficient communication generally about the situation facing the council and potential or proposed changes.”