December 5 2013 Latest news:
Friday, October 4, 2013
Reassurances have been given to the people of Breckland that they have strong and stable council after another short-term chief executive took up his new role.
This week marked a day of goodbyes and welcomes as Trevor Holden and Mark Stokes both bid farewell to Breckland Council and Geoff Rivers became the authority’s latest interim chief executive.
The 62-year-old, who was previously the chief executive of South Norfolk and St Edmundsbury councils, was the only candidate to be interviewed for the role.
He has been given an initial five-month contract as interim chief executive and head of paid service, in a joint appointment with South Holland District Council under the two authorities’ shared management structure.
Mr Rivers was formally appointed at Thursday’s full council meeting.
The appointment follows a series of high-profile changes which have seen Michael Wassell replace William Nunn as leader, Mr Holden’s second departure from the council after his eight months as interim chief executive and deputy chief executive Mr Stokes leave the authority after 28 years.
Mr Rivers, who lives in Pulham Market and is married to Suffolk County Council chief executive Deborah Cadman, said: “You need a stable organisation and a well run organisation can exist for a reasonable amount of time without a chief executive - staff know the routines - but when you want to drive a council forward and have a change of direction, it’s good to have a chief executive that’s in line with council leaders.
“I hope to bring stability to both councils, better interaction between both councils, better handling of the budget, a budget that’s in line with the priorities of the councils, improve our performance management system and build a good relationship with the community - all within five weeks.”
Looking ahead, he said the council’s biggest challenge was managing its budget and he did not rule out the possibility of Breckland and South Holland teaming up with a third authority - the current partnership saves £500,000 a year per council.
“There’s going to be more strategic cuts for public services and looking into the future, the council will have to look at how it can change the ship’s course such as retraining staff to adopt different roles,” he said.
“But it’s not all doom and gloom, there are opportunities and the councils will have to try to do things in ways which have not been traditionally done and communicate with members of the public so they know what they can expect from their council.”
The qualified maths teacher, who was born in Suffolk and was chief executive of South Norfolk Council between 2000 and 2008, left St Edmundsbury Borough Council in 2012 after four years.
He left when the authority was merging its management team with Forest Heath District Council and both councils wanted someone “new and independent” to take on the role as chief executive.
During his year away from local government, Mr Rivers has been teaching at King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds. He said it had “fallen lucky” that he had a pay-out from St Edmundsbury ahead of taking up the new role with Breckland and South Holland.
“It’s come about in the most peculiar sort of way,” said Mr Rivers. “I went back to my roots and taught for a year and thoroughly enjoyed it. The opportunity then came up here. Having a year out, it refreshes you and recharges your batteries.”
Meanwhile, councillors paid tribute to Mr Stokes who is to become the Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner’s new chief executive.
Mr Stokes first joined the council as a Youth Training Scheme (YTS) trainee in 1985. Councillors said Breckland’s “loss is the police crime commissioner’s gain”.