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Beecham hits out at Pickles

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Sir Jeremy Beecham has hit out at Conservative Party chairman Eric Pickles’ assertion that the position of council chief executive could be abolished.

Sir Jeremy Beecham

Sir Jeremy Beecham

Local Government Association Labour group leader Sir Jeremy said: “David Cameron wants us to believe that he will ‘set councils free’, while his party chair is planning to storm into every town hall and sack the chief executive.”

Mr Pickles had said that many chief executives were not needed and that their football manager-level salaries could not be justified “in a time when members have executive responsibilities”.

Sir Jeremy claimed local services had dramatically improved over the last 12 years under Labour.

“Putting ideas into action requires the expertise of chief executives and senior managers in what are large and complex organisations.

“Cutting the power of local councils to take action, as the Tories did in the 80s and 90s, would leave local communities without services they vitally need.

“Every local authority must ensure that the salaries of senior officers are reasonable, and should demonstrate that to local residents, but grasping for low-rent opportunism at the cost of local services shows the Tories are unfit for power.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • It is widely accepted best practice in corporate management and governance to have a Chief Executive, other functional Directors, a Chair Person and other Non Executive Directors. In public services the Chair and Non Executive roles often involve politcal strategy and decision making.

    Politicans come and go - often in very short spaces of time - and on that basis alone a Chief Executive is needed to ensure managerial stability and continuity. Of course a Chief Executive also brings professional and managerial skills essential to leadership in any organisation and which can't be assured from electing a politician who may come from any background.

    This last point is an essential issue to consider in our society and economy presently and exactly the opposite point of view to that put forward by Pickles. In our country we can arrive at a situation where a guy with PhD in history but unqualified in accountancy or economics is Chancellor of the Exchequer for 10 years. We can have a Home Secretary appointed who previously worked as a primary school teacher and has no qualifications in criminal justice or management. It isn't possible for people to be competent without the right knowledge, skills and experience. Far from ditching the Chief Excutive role, we need to look at how politcal leaders are elected and byond serving in the political infrastructure what they bring to the table. Should the constitutional process be fundamentally refocused in our modern society.

    Finally, in the past local authorities have been controlled by politicians who were corrupt, incompetent, following a revolutionary agenda or simply barking mad. It is essential that a strong management capability led by a Chief Executive is retained to deal situations like this.

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