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First county-unitary chief share could run long term

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The first chief executive to be shared between a county and a unitary council has said the arrangement could extend beyond its intended one year term if it proves successful.

Peterborough City Council chief Gillian Beasley is to additionally take over at Cambridgeshire CC following the resignation of Mark Lloyd, who has become chief executive of the Local Government Association.

Ms Beasley told LGC: “We thought very carefully about bringing these two jobs together and there was a lot of preparation.

“It is a 12 months’ arrangement with a review at six months to see if it works, when we will look against agreed criteria such as budgets and progress on devolution and judge it on that. It could continue beyond 12 months if everyone is happy.”

She added: “I do not think this is something you would give to a chief executive who was inexperienced. You need to understand both councils’ agendas and know what you need to keep an eye on, what you need to do yourself and what you don’t and to have the right support in place.”

Ms Beasley said her joint role did not necessarily signal that Cambridgeshire and Peterborough would imminently form a combined authority.

The two have commissioned research from think tank ResPublica on how devolution might work in the economically fast-growing area.

Cambridgeshire is to pay Peterborough £110,000 - half of Ms Beasley’s existing salary, on-costs and pension - giving the county a saving of £144,160 over a year.

Ms Beasley became chief executive at Peterborough in 2002 having joined it as director of law and administration in 1997. She was earlier head of legal services at Cambridgeshire.

Cross-tier shared chief posts are rare. Former Essex CC chair Joanna Killian also headed up Brentwood BC for four years between 2008 and 2012 when the arrangement was ended due to what were described as “significant challenges” faced by both councils.

 

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