A letter has been sent by Ian Swithenbank (Lab) and Nick Skellet (Con) the chair and vice-chair of the IDeA respectively to LGA chief executive Paul Coen , raising concerns about how the development strategy could hamper the agency.
Cllr Swithenbank told LGC he was unable to start the search for a replacement for the agency’s outgoing executive director Lucy de Groot until he knew how the post would fit in with the restructure. Under the plan, the IDeA and other bodies in the ‘local government family’ will be brought in-house to the LGA.
“We need the LGA to give us an indication of the terms and conditions and salary levels so I can advertise the job preferably while Lucy is still around,” he said. “I’m not saying it is damaging to the agency, but it certainly doesn’t help morale.”
Ms de Groot will leave the IDeA in the spring and Cllr Swithenbank said he would be “disappointed” if progress had not been made by Christmas.
With group leaders already dissatisfied with senior officers’ handling of the Icelandic banking crisis, one senior LGA source described the atmosphere at Local Government House as “febrile”.
“Everyone is edgy and wondering what’s going to happen next,” he said. “There are grave concerns linked to the slowness of the review. We don’t know the cause but we certainly can’t see any signs of progress.”
Edward Lord (Lib Dem), the chair of the LGA members’ task group which is overseeing the development strategy, said: “I am not unhappy with the speed of travel at the moment but we must make sure we do keep a reasonable pace.”
The row comes as attention is turning to a general election which is likely to place the association’s cross-party alliance under strain.
According to an LGA office holders’ group report, the association needed “to have sight of the issues which may expose fault-lines within our cross-party approach and a sense of how we handle those”.