Top jobs shake-up at county council

SHAUN LOWTHORPE An ongoing cull of senior bosses at Norfolk County Council will see the scrapping of the authority's director of finance.

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

An ongoing cull of senior bosses at Norfolk County Council will see the scrapping of the authority's director of finance.

Councillors recently backed the deletion of the director of finance job, which will see long-serving post holder Bob Summers leave the authority next year and the position downgraded to a new head of finance.

The new finance chief will report to Paul Adams, director of corporate resources.

The council has been forced to introduce a tighter rein on spending in the last couple of years after problems in its children's and adult social services departments and adult education budgets when it emerged that finances shot into the red because of a lack of clarity over who was spending what.

That saw the setting up of an audit committee and the introduction of a new risk-based approach to look at the financial pitfalls facing departments.

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The move is the latest in a clearout of top-level directors' posts at the authority as part of a continuing efficiency drive.

A previous shake-up, which saw the departure of efficiency director Alan Tidmarsh and former education director Bryan Slater, hit the headlines amid claims they received a combined pay-off from the authority totalling nearly £500,000.

But council leader Shaun Murphy said that deleting the finance director's post would save money in the long run and brings the authority in line with other county authorities.

And he said the timing of the decision meant there would be no big payout, but a "significant saving" instead.

"Bob is coming up to 40 years' service in summer so it was an appropriate time to do the change," he said. "Because of his many years service, it isn't pension enhance-ments, just service. We will get that money back in savings.

"I shall be sorry to see Bob go; he is a very knowledgeable and experienced chief officer," he added. "What we need to do now is take it to the next stage.

"Under Bob we have had a financial improvement programme in the past year and brought in risk management which has made a big difference.

"We have also got an audit committee and our value for money is doing well.

"We are slimming down our top tier and at the moment we are carrying out a big review of our back office functions," he said.

"As it progresses, the new chief executive will also have his own ideas. What we want to do is get on with the recruitment early on in the New Year."