Gareth Daniel, chief executive of Brent LBC, has agreed a deal to leave the council.
Mr Daniel met with leader Muhammed Butt (Lab) on Friday afternoon to agree the terms of his departure. The relationship between the two had been strained for months and had recently reached breaking point.
In a statement issued by Cllr Butt and the council’s corporate management team, it was confirmed that Mr Daniel would leave the council “imminently”.
The council will recruit a new chief executive and an “external interim” chief executive will be found “in the next few weeks”. Until then, Fiona Ledden, director of legal and procurement will deputise.
“Gareth has worked for Brent for 26 years including 14 years as chief executive,” the statement read. “In that time he led the council through an enormous amount of positive change and was the driving force behind the council’s decision to build a new Civic Centre in Wembley. He is a highly respected senior officer across London and beyond and will be greatly missed by the organisation and its partners.
“We all know that change can be unsettling,” the statement continued. “However, we want to reassure you that we will do all we can to ensure that the council continues to provide the vital services that our residents depend on. We are also confident that you will support us in achieving this in the months and years ahead.”
Friday afternoon’s meeting followed the failure of a bid by Cllr Butt’s own Labour group to express “complete confidence” in Mr Daniel and his management team. Local paper the Brent & Kilburn Times reported Cllr Butt as telling his fellow councillors: “The relationship of mutual trust and respect that needs to exist between every leader and chief executive has deteriorated.”
The group has been deeply divided for some time and Cllr Butt seized the leadership of the council from Ann John in May. Rumours of a strained relationship between Mr Daniel and Cllr Butt began to circulate shortly after.
Brent could now presenting a challenge to the fledgling system of sector-led improvement being implemented by the LGA.
LGC understands there have been attempts made by the sector to help find a way for Mr Daniel and Cllr Butt to work together, but that these have been unsuccessful. However, there have not yet been discussions around sending an improvement board into the council.
In an interview with LGC this week, Michael Coughlin, the LGA’s executive director responsible for the new regime of sector-led improvement, said signs of a “weakening council” would include “changes in personnel [and] relationships which are struggling to be effective”.
Paul Lorber, leader of the council’s Liberal Democrat group and a former leader of the council, said the “extraordinary breakdown in relationships” posed a “real risk to the effective running of the council”.
“I have had my differences with Gareth Daniel over the years but have always found it possible to maintain a professional relationship,” he said. “If Labour councillors are clumsily trying to ease Mr Daniel out of his position they are risking very large sums of public cash on redundancy and compensation payments, not to mention the damage to their and the council’s reputation.”
- Subscribers can click here to read the full interview with Michael Coughlin