Exeter City Council has been told to split the posts of chief executive and growth director, both at present held by Karime Hassan.
A Local Government Association peer challenge report said the council should take this step to allow Mr Hassan to focus on internal issues. He is at present paid £112,211 for both roles.
The report said: “The focus of attention for the chief executive will, by necessity, change in coming years from outward looking growth to major internal transformation programmes.
“These will require the post holder to give these programmes leadership and personal involvement. The peer team believe that now is the time to establish a separate director with a portfolio focused on built environment.”
The report praised both Exeter’s role in attracting new businesses and strong population growth and the progress made by the Exeter and Heart of Devon Economic Partnership, with East Devon, Mid Devon and Teignbridge DCs
It said, though, that work on devolution had slowed due to fears this would be lead to reorganisation.
“Sub regional discussions on a combined authority often seemed to the peer team like the ‘elephant in the room’,” the report said. “The opportunities that appear to be presented through devolution [were] fraught with fears - held by almost all councils - of being a precursor to local government re-organisation.”
Also, councils outside the Exeter economic partnership might view this as “a power block positioning itself for unitary status”.
The report concluded: “These fears, although understandable, may be holding back the potential that devolution might offer to promote growth.”
A statement to Exeter’s executive from Mr Hassan on the proposal to split his job said it was “timely and appropriate that the peer challenge team has identified this issue”, but more detailed consideration was needed on how this could be achieved.