Wiltshire wants to cut chief executive

September 15, 2011 6:21 PM

At last, a local council thinks it’s better to cut highly paid council officers rather than frontline services! Bucking the trend of bleating councils who prefer to reduce our services before halting the taxpayer-funded gravy train, Wiltshire’s council leader is proposing to axe their chief executive. Faced with finding an additional saving of £500,000, Cllr Jane Scott informed chief executive Andrew Kerr that he might have to go.

‘The decision to make this proposal has not been taken easily or lightly,’ she told the Wiltshire Times. ‘I have taken it because I believe what we are doing is the best thing for the people of Wiltshire. We do not want to do anything to take away from those who are delivering services, the frontline of the council. I believe we have to protect that.’

Instead, she is looking at removing four corporate directors in addition to the chief executive, preferring to see their highly paid jobs go rather than a larger number of less-well-paid workers. Kerr had already caused some upset earlier this year by claiming a £6000 pay rise on top of his £189,000 income while other staff were being made redundant. Public pressure forced him to decline the extra pay.

Kerr says he will now leave quickly if given the push by Wiltshire councillors, but no doubt pocketing a huge severance payment as he goes and then hopping into another chief executive post somewhere else. He only arrived in Wiltshire last year, having been chief executive in North Tyneside for five years. Before that he was a director of leisure and culture at Birmingham City Council.  At one stage, in a last ditch effort to save his job, Kerr suggested cutting other administrative costs, but that would have put other people at risk. As one local put it, ‘What a lovely man, “Sack them, not me”.’

The final decision to make Kerr redundant will be made on 26 September, but I won’t hold my breath. The public sector establishment is adept at protecting its vested interests and opposition councillors are already attacking the council leader about removing the post of chief executive. Still, as one of them says: ‘Why not have a chief executive but without the £190,000 salary?’ That would certainly do for a start.

Tim Newark, Bath & South-West TaxPayers’ AllianceAt last, a local council thinks it’s better to cut highly paid council officers rather than frontline services! Bucking the trend of bleating councils who prefer to reduce our services before halting the taxpayer-funded gravy train, Wiltshire’s council leader is proposing to axe their chief executive. Faced with finding an additional saving of £500,000, Cllr Jane Scott informed chief executive Andrew Kerr that he might have to go.

‘The decision to make this proposal has not been taken easily or lightly,’ she told the Wiltshire Times. ‘I have taken it because I believe what we are doing is the best thing for the people of Wiltshire. We do not want to do anything to take away from those who are delivering services, the frontline of the council. I believe we have to protect that.’

Instead, she is looking at removing four corporate directors in addition to the chief executive, preferring to see their highly paid jobs go rather than a larger number of less-well-paid workers. Kerr had already caused some upset earlier this year by claiming a £6000 pay rise on top of his £189,000 income while other staff were being made redundant. Public pressure forced him to decline the extra pay.

Kerr says he will now leave quickly if given the push by Wiltshire councillors, but no doubt pocketing a huge severance payment as he goes and then hopping into another chief executive post somewhere else. He only arrived in Wiltshire last year, having been chief executive in North Tyneside for five years. Before that he was a director of leisure and culture at Birmingham City Council.  At one stage, in a last ditch effort to save his job, Kerr suggested cutting other administrative costs, but that would have put other people at risk. As one local put it, ‘What a lovely man, “Sack them, not me”.’

The final decision to make Kerr redundant will be made on 26 September, but I won’t hold my breath. The public sector establishment is adept at protecting its vested interests and opposition councillors are already attacking the council leader about removing the post of chief executive. Still, as one of them says: ‘Why not have a chief executive but without the £190,000 salary?’ That would certainly do for a start.

Tim Newark, Bath & South-West TaxPayers’ Alliance

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