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Westminster 'too busy' to share a chief

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The two council chiefs who spearheaded the innovative West London tri-borough partnership will both stand down at the end of 2013.

And in what some commentators may regard as a surprise move, all three councils have confirmed they will not be taking this opportunity to recruit a single shared chief to head up the partnership.

Following the departure of Westminster City Council chief executive Mike More, the authority will appoint its own, dedicated chief executive, because of its “scale”.

Hammersmith & Fulham LBC and Kensington & Chelsea RBC, which already share Derek Myers as chief, will conduct a joint recruitment exercise.

Westminster’s Mr More said: “The split of the joint chief executive and single chief executive has worked very well.” He described the chief executive role for Westminster as “an extremely busy one”, pointing to last week when the council had to cope with both Margaret Thatcher’s funeral and the London marathon.

“The scale of Westminster warrants having a full-time chief executive just dealing with the specific issues,” Mr More said.

However, he added that the tri-borough joint working arrangement, which has developed in recent years was “a really deep and productive relationship”.

“Derek and I work really closely together - we probably see more of each other then we do of our own wives,” he said.

Mr More, 57, told LGC that he had no plans to take another role in local government when he leaves Westminster at the end of the year. Instead, he said he would “reflect and retire” and “spend time with my family who have been neglected for many years”.

Mr Myers said he had “had the best job in local government for 13 years” and indicated he would not retire completely.

“In time, I hope to use some of what I have learned in other places,” he said.

Both Mr More and Mr Myers indicated that they would depart at the end of the year.

A Westminster spokesman told LGC the timing of the two announcements was “coincidental” but that the pair had been aware of each other’s intentions.

Westminster has already begun the search for a chief executive.

The joint recruitment process is expected to begin once Kensington & Chelsea elects a new leader.

Sir Merrick Cockell (Con), who has elected leader in 2000, the same year as the appointment of Mr Myers, last week announced his intention to stand down, saying that hewanted to focus on supporting local government nationally during his final year as LGA chairman.

He described Mr Myers as “a first rate chief executive”.

“Under the guiding hand of Derek Myers, Kensington & Chelsea has been one of the best performing councils in the country,” he said.

Westminster leader Philippa Roe (Con) said Mr More’s “strategic vision has helped us to negotiate a uniquely challenging period in the public sector, and Mike leaves us with a bold vision for the future”.

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