December 11 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
The departure of Breckland Council’s two most senior officers was confirmed yesterday – just two weeks after the resignation of the authority’s political leader.
The exodus of top-level figures from the district began on August 19 when council leader William Nunn announced his resignation.
It was immediately followed by the news that deputy chief executive Mark Stokes was the first choice to become Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner’s new chief executive – an appointment which was approved by the county’s Police and Crime Panel yesterday.
And in a separate announcement, the council’s most senior paid officer, interim chief executive Trevor Holden, became the third to confirm his departure.
Mr Holden was appointed in January in a joint agreement between Breckland and South Holland District Councils, which share a joint senior management team.
Through an initial three-month contract, he was released on a part-time basis by Luton Borough Council.
But eight months on, with Breckland and South Holland no closer to their ambitions of teaming up with a third council under their merged management structure, Mr Holden has been recalled by his employers.
Luton Borough Council has served notice on the contract with an expiry date of October 9, by which time the outgoing chief executive believes a new interim chief will be found.
But as a parting shot, Mr Holden urged the heads of neighbouring councils to consider becoming the new permanent chief executive of Breckland – and bringing their council into a three-way partnership.
“Local government is going to change, so you might as well jump on board now,” he said.
“It is better to be at the vanguard of driving change rather than having it foisted upon you.
“In moving towards a permanent appointment, the best result of all this would be for a third authority to come forward.
“For the life of me, I cannot understand why people are not doing it (sharing management). It is crystal clear that change is going to happen.
“If I was worried about my job at another authority, with the appropriate geography, I would be thinking I could jump into bed with Breckland and South Holland and be at the vanguard of change.”
Mr Holden said the timing of the three senior departures was “unfortunate” but that it would not affect the running of council services.
“The timing for the PCC’s chief executive was unfortunate, but it was not within our gift,” he said. “I was surprised that William (Nunn) decided to stand down as leader. But the political model is unchanged and there will be a new leader on Thursday.
“It needs to be an ordered transition. There is a strong management team across the two authorities (Breckland and South Holland).
“We have got two changes, but the management team is bigger than that, and there is consistency below the top. Actually, it is a steady hand on the tiller.”
It is anticipated that Mr Stokes’ last day of service with the council will be the October 20. There are no plans to recruit a replacement deputy chief executive initially.
At its meeting on Thursday, Breckland Council will be asked to “disaggregate” the functions of the role within the existing senior team, with a view to this position being reviewed by the permanent chief executive when he or she is appointed.
Mr Stokes was chosen by Norfolk police and crime commissioner Stephen Bett to run his office, but the nomination needed to be reviewed by the county’s Police and Crime Panel panel, made up of Norfolk councillors and independent members.
The panel yesterday agreed to recommend to Mr Bett that he should proceed in appointing Mr Stokes as his chief executive, to succeed the retiring Chris Harding.
Alec Byrne, Norfolk Police and Crime Panel chairman and Norfolk county councillor, said: “This is a very important appointment for Norfolk and panel members wanted to take every opportunity to satisfy themselves that it was appropriately scrutinised.
“After a rigorous but fair process, the panel members were satisfied that Mr Stokes would be suitably qualified for the role.”