How many directors do councils need?

June 13, 2011 2:17 PM

I wrote recently on how Merseyside Councils have started to work together to reduce costs. Sharing services, and reducing the number of senior officers will potentially save taxpayers millions of pounds. Good news if these reforms are carried through.

It has been reported today that Roger Ching, the strategic director and Section 151 Officer of Portsmouth City Council, is going to take early retirement. He said:
"I am 60, and have reached the magic age where I can retire. I have been at the council 41 years, and because of the financial situation, the time’s right for me to step aside."

The council also comments that Mr Ching will not be replaced and his duties will be spread around other senior officers reporting to one of the five remaining strategic directors. This does beg the question: if he is not being replaced, what was the point of either him or at least one other director being there?

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="286" caption="How gracious of you"][/caption]

In our Town Hall Rich List this year, we revealed that Mr Ching's total remuneration (including pension contributions) was £129,784. Other directors are on a similar package.  If Mr Ching had not decided to take early retirement, would the number of directors (that the council has freely admitted is too high) have been reduced?

There are 433 councils in the UK. If every council reduced the number of directors by one, the savings run into tens of millions of pounds. If every council also decided to merge back office functions with neighbouring authorities, hundreds of millions of pounds could also be saved.

All too often we read about councils cutting front-line services, rather than cutting the size of their bureaucracies. Lambeth and Nottingham are prime examples, who even went to the lengths of using up advertising space they could have received revenue from to place posters blaming the government!

Instead of reducing its bureaucracy, Lambeth decided to increase the cost of traders' parking permits from £2.60 a day to £18.75. Nottingham is trying to increase the costs of private hire licences, and local private hire firms are threatening to vote with their feet and register their cars in a neighbouring authority.

They are just two examples, and there are many more. Keep on writing to us and letting us know of similar increases by the back door. We will highlight as many as we can. No-one is saying councils do not have hard choices to make. They do, and they need to look harder inside town halls before they look at reducing services in their communities.I wrote recently on how Merseyside Councils have started to work together to reduce costs. Sharing services, and reducing the number of senior officers will potentially save taxpayers millions of pounds. Good news if these reforms are carried through.

It has been reported today that Roger Ching, the strategic director and Section 151 Officer of Portsmouth City Council, is going to take early retirement. He said:
"I am 60, and have reached the magic age where I can retire. I have been at the council 41 years, and because of the financial situation, the time’s right for me to step aside."

The council also comments that Mr Ching will not be replaced and his duties will be spread around other senior officers reporting to one of the five remaining strategic directors. This does beg the question: if he is not being replaced, what was the point of either him or at least one other director being there?

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="286" caption="How gracious of you"][/caption]

In our Town Hall Rich List this year, we revealed that Mr Ching's total remuneration (including pension contributions) was £129,784. Other directors are on a similar package.  If Mr Ching had not decided to take early retirement, would the number of directors (that the council has freely admitted is too high) have been reduced?

There are 433 councils in the UK. If every council reduced the number of directors by one, the savings run into tens of millions of pounds. If every council also decided to merge back office functions with neighbouring authorities, hundreds of millions of pounds could also be saved.

All too often we read about councils cutting front-line services, rather than cutting the size of their bureaucracies. Lambeth and Nottingham are prime examples, who even went to the lengths of using up advertising space they could have received revenue from to place posters blaming the government!

Instead of reducing its bureaucracy, Lambeth decided to increase the cost of traders' parking permits from £2.60 a day to £18.75. Nottingham is trying to increase the costs of private hire licences, and local private hire firms are threatening to vote with their feet and register their cars in a neighbouring authority.

They are just two examples, and there are many more. Keep on writing to us and letting us know of similar increases by the back door. We will highlight as many as we can. No-one is saying councils do not have hard choices to make. They do, and they need to look harder inside town halls before they look at reducing services in their communities.
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