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London shared deal falls through

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A “major personality clash” between chief executive and leader caused plans for a ground-breaking shared management arrangement to fail, it has been claimed.

Islington and Camden LBCs announced last week that plans to share a chief executive and senior management team had been abandoned because of the cost of redundancies although work on shared services would continue.

However, an insider said there had been “a major clash of personalities between the key partners, namely [leader] Catherine West (Lab) (far left) in Islington and [chief executive] Moira Gibb in Camden (left)”.

Rather than the proposal failing because of cost, “it all got down to personalities”, the source claimed.

However, Islington leader Catherine West (Lab) denied the claims, describing Ms Gibb as “very professional”.

Cllr West said the councils’ investigation of sharing options had shown the biggest savings would be made in procurement rather than shared management which “is a one-off saving and requires a lot of political and officer energy”.

She also questioned whether there would ever be a joint chief executive in top-tier councils. “It may be popular at district level but there has not been a successful arrangement between London councils,” she said.

A joint statement from the councils said a joint management team would have involved additional costs in years one and two, with savings not realised until years three and four.

The councils could not provide figures relating to the redundancy costs but Cllr West said they were significantly more than believed when the councils announced their plans in September.

A spokesman for Camden said the council still intended to reduce senior management costs by 20% over the next three years.

Cllr West said Islington would advertise for a new chief executive in the new year with the aim of appointing someone in time to take over from John Foster when he retires at the end of May.

Although the council intends to appoint someone on a salary “way under” Mr Foster’s £210,000, Cllr West said the final amount would depend on the appointee.

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