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Part-time chief set to get thumbs up

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A district council looks set to appoint a part-time chief executive after a five month trial was successful.

Robin Hooper, below, has worked part-time at Eden DC on an interim basis while the council review of management posts and services.

The human resources and appeals committee has recommended the arrangement be made permanent, saving the council £40,000 a year, and a meeting of the full council is to make a final decision at the end of this month.

Leader Gordon Nicolson (Con) said he was “delighted” by the committee’s recommendation and would be commending it to councillors later this month.

“Robin hit the ground running when he started in his interim role,” he said. “In less than six months he has drawn up a new corporate plan which focuses the work of the council more clearly on what the public want.

“Under his leadership the council has also achieved annual savings of £1 million to resolve the budget deficit.”

Cllr Nicolson said the council had initially appointed a part-time interim chief executive to save money but also to discover whether sharing a chief executive with another council would work.

Talks with Carlisle City Council about sharing a chief executive and management team were unsuccessful because, Cllr Nicolson said, there had not been the political support for the move within Carlisle’s opposition group who could take control at next year’s local elections.

Cllr Nicolson said: “There was no cross-party consensus in Carlisle and consequently we reached the conclusion that one of the criteria - any arrangement should a survive a change of leadership - could not be met.”

Although Carlisle offered to sell the management services of their next chief executive to Eden, a small council with just 170 staff, this was turned down. Cllr Nicolson said. “We wanted to design a new job altogether.”

Despite the failure to find agreement with another local authority, the experiment with a part-time position is set to be made permanent. Cllr Nicolson said: “In the past six months we have turned the council around. Robin Hooper has really taken this forward for us. We know we can get what we want from a really competent person working half the week.”

Cllr Nicolson admitted a shared management team with another council would save more than employing a part-time chief, but said this had not proved possible at the present time.

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