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Chief redundant ahead of reorganisation

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Bournemouth BC is to make its chief executive redundant with a £394,000 package ahead of an expected reorganisation of councils in the area.

A full council meeting next week has been asked to agree the deal for Tony Williams, chief executive since 2011.

The move came despite the absence of clarity over whether the government will allow Bournemouth’s proposed merger into a new unitary with Poole and Christchurch BCs. Another unitary would be created for the rest of Dorset.

A council statement said the deletion of the chief executive post came “in the context of ongoing austerity measures continuing to see reduced funding from central government”.

It added: “We are already increasingly working in partnership with Borough of Poole in readiness for the potential replacement of Dorset’s councils, including Bournemouth, with two new authorities, by April 2019.”

A Bournemouth spokeswoman said deleting the chief’s role and reorganising other responsibilities was necessary now since there either the merger would proceed or closer joint working with Poole would be needed.

Julian Osgathorpe, executive director of corporate services, said in a report to councillors that Mr Williams’ package would comprise statutory redundancy pay of £63,000, six month’s contractual notice pay of £85,000 and statutory early release of pension capitalised costs of £246,000.

Consequent changes to responsibilities would see a total one off cost of £477,000, but an annual saving of £309,000.

Deputy chief executive Jane Portman would become statutory head of paid service, a situation described as “an interim arrangement pending further decisions regarding the joint working between [Bournemouth and Poole] or the creation of the new unitary authorities”.

A Poole spokeswoman said Bournemouth’s plans did not affect its chief executive Andrew Flockhart.

Bournemouth Leader John Beesley (Con) said, “I cannot thank Tony enough on behalf of the council for his strong insight and leadership during his time at Bournemouth Council. I am confident that his contributions will extend far into the future and we wish him all the very best.”

Mr Williams said: “I will be very sad to leave Bournemouth council at such an exciting time for the future of local government in the county. However, I know that the achievements I have made since joining as executive director for environment and economy and more recently as chief executive have done much to enhance the town’s reputation and make people living here proud of where they live.”

Communities secretary Sajid Javid had been expected this week to say whether he was minded to approve the reorganisation, but Wednesday’s terrorist attack in London is understood to have delayed this and it is unclear whether any statement could come during pre-election purdah.

East Dorset and Purbeck DCs and Christchurch have opposed the reorganisation, with the latter having this week ignored its finance director’s advice and voted to spend £50,000 on a referendum on the issue.





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