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Havering chief set to go part-time

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Havering LBC will meet tonight to consider proposals to reduce its senior management team and allow its chief executive to work part-time.

The local authority estimates the restructure, if agreed, would save taxpayers £225,000 in pay for senior managers.

Under the proposals, the council’s chief executive, Cheryl Coppell, would work a three-day week from December, although it is likely she would work more than three days initially. The council estimates this would save approximately £90,000 per year.

Ms Coppell has also asked to take a voluntary 10% cut in pay in recognition of the pressures on the council and its staff, which would deliver an additional annual saving of £10,000. Along with pension contributions, the total saving to the council as a result of her reduced hours would be approximately £120,000.

Havering would become the third London council to have a part-time chief executive. Roger Hampson, Rebridge LBC’s chief executive, reduced his hours earlier this year, while Barry Quirk, chief executive of Lewisham LBC, has been working the equivalent of three days a week since 2011.

A report to tonight’s meeting of Havering council reveals Ms Coppell had indicated her wish to retire on her 61st birthday, which falls next month, but that leader Roger Ramsey (Con) persuaded her to stay in post to “ensure the stability of the council during a significant period of change and transformation”.

The council said Ms Coppell, who joined Havering from her role as chief executive at Slough BC in 2007, would continue in a part-time role for at least another 18 months.

Councillors will also decide whether to reduce the number of directors in the tier of management directly below the chief executive from three to two.

The decision of Cynthia Griffin, group director for culture, community and economic development, to leave the council in December has prompted a recommendation that the authority should not recruit a replacement.

A council report suggests dividing Ms Griffin’s responsibilities between the remaining two directors, the group director of children, adults and housing and the group director of resources. The group director of resources’ title would change to director of communities and resources.

Cllr Ramsey believes the authority can manage with just two directors now that its support services, such as accountancy, human resources and legal services, are shared with Newham LBC.

He said: “We’ve always had a small senior management team compared with many councils, but in the light of budget cuts, we’re looking to reduce it still further.

“I’m glad I’ve managed to persuade Cheryl Coppell to put off her well-deserved retirement for a little while longer and I hope my colleagues will support the move to her working part-time.”

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