Norfolk County Council agrees to axe £243,000 a year managing director role

Dr Wendy Thomson is leaving her role of managing director of Norfolk County Council and will not be

Dr Wendy Thomson is leaving her role of managing director of Norfolk County Council and will not be directly replaced. Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Major changes in the way Norfolk County Council is run has been agreed - with the £243,000 a year managing director role to be axed.

Dr Wendy Thomson leaves County Hall at the end of the week and the council today agreed not to replace her directly.

The Conservative-led administration also agreed to switch from the current committee system to a cabinet system, where members of the controlling party have portfolios and meet to make key decisions.

Leader Andrew Proctor says that presents a good opportunity to switch to an executive leader model.

Instead of a managing director, there would be a head of paid service and an executive director of strategy and governance - upgrading an existing role.

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Current executive director for environment and communities Tom McCabe would take on the head if paid service role, paid an extra £10,000 a year, while the strategy role would add £7,400 a year to the salary for the current strategy director role.

The new system would also see the creation of a corporate board.

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That would consist of the leader, deputy leader and the executive directors.

That board would not meet in public, sparking accusations from opposition councillors of a lack of transparency.

But leader Mr Proctor insisted there would be no lack of transparency, openness or accountability and that the authority would be more member led.

Mr Proctor said: 'With the move back to the cabinet system and an authority which will be truly member led we do not see the need for a managing director.

'It is my view and the view of the Conservative administration that we have an excellent and highly committed team of senior officers working hard for Norfolk.'

Deputy leader Graham Plant said there would be a cabinet scrutiny committee and select committees to serve as checks and balances.

Liberal Democrat leader Dan Roper suggested Conservative councillors would be 'feathering their nests', through their posts under the new system, a claim Conservative Bill Borrett branded 'outrageous'.

The switch to an executive leadership cabinet system and the new governance model, minus a managing director, were both agreed by 48 votes to 23.

Dr Thomson's salary is £183,000, but once pension costs and national insurance contributions are added, her post costs £243,000 a year.

She leaves on Friday to become vice-chancellor of the University of London.

She will not work her three month notice period and a council spokesman said: 'Beyond contractual notice arrangements, there are no further payments due or being made.'

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