Serious questions have been raised about the chief executive-leader role being pioneered by Rugby BC
The panel reviewing the allowances for councillors including “enhanced leader” Craig Humphrey (Con) rejected the model of leadership as unsustainable and recommended a review be undertaken.
The chief executive’s responsibilities have been shared by Cllr Humphrey, left, and the council’s two executive directors Ian Davis and Andrew Grabbitas since March in an experiment that has been seen as a testing ground for communities secretary Eric Pickles’ belief that the council chief executive post is unnecessary.
However, a report from Rugby’s independent remuneration panel questioned what the “enhanced leader” or leader/chief executive title meant. They said there had been no proper job evaluation and described a lack of clarity over the new role’s activities, despite detailed evidence from the leader and executive directors.
Their report also warned of a “personalisation of the governance model” because the arrangement was designed to exist only as long as the current leader and executive directors were in post. This reliance on individuals meant there was “a lack of sustainability in the long term”, the report said.
“It is also unfortunate that the proposal was submitted and recommended only by the individuals most affected,” it said. “They place themselves at risk of the criticism of self interest, whether warranted or not.”
The panel concluded that the leader/chief executive model, “a model it rejects”, did not exist in Rugby because key responsibilities of the chief exec “continue to be allocated to officers”. That arrangement “inevitably” led to reduced senior officer capacity, it added.
Despite their criticism, the panel recommended that the leader’s allowance should increase from £10,378 to £16,983 because the absence of a chief executive meant the leader’s external relations role was undertaken “without substantial officer support”.
Opposition leader Cllr James Shera (Lab) welcomed the report’s findings and said he backed calls for a review. “Eric Pickles wanted this experiment to take place in Rugby but it has suffered a very serious set-back.”
Cllr Humphrey declined to comment until the report was presented to full council. Mr Davis responded: “The observations of the Panel on the model are not necessarily accepted, however the report will be considered by members at the first available meeting of the council.”