Harrow LBC’s cabinet will next week be asked to reinstate the post of chief executive, eight months after it was scrapped.
The move would make Harrow the first of the recent ‘chiefless’ councils to reverse this model, though a handful that dropped chief executives in the 1990s also later reversed this.
A short-lived minority Conservative administration last January deleted the post and handed a payoff of more than £168,000 to incumbent Michael Lockwood (pictured), who is now a executive director of finance and policy at the LGA.
Labour regained power in May’s election, with a manifesto that accused the Tories of having “recklessly created a void in the council’s management”.
Leader David Perry (Lab) consulted staff in July on whether the post should be restored or whether Harrow should continue with a corporate director, currently Paul Najsarek, also being head of paid service
The consultation showed a two-thirds majority in favour of having a chief executive, from 384 respondents.
Cabinet members will be asked next Thursday to decide “whether to re-instate the post of chief executive in the council’s management structure”.
Anonymous staff observations to the consultation in favour of restoring the post included: “It ensures that all departments can be looked at objectively by the chief executive as they will have no connections to any directorate”, and “the council faces its most challenging time ever over the coming four years, and to enter this with unclear governance at the senior levels in the organisation is a huge risk”.
Opinions among those opposed included: “There is no need to add yet another layer of senior management”, and “when the council is having to reduce its controllable spend by up to £75m over the next few years it would be damaging for the organisation to reintroduce a highly paid chief officer position.”
Mr Lockwood’s post was deleted following a period of infighting last year in which control went from Labour to Independent Labour to Conservative in less than six months.
Then leader Susan Hall (Con) later told a scrutiny review that her experience owning a hairdressing salon equipped her to run the council without needing a chief executive.