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Richmondshire job deal sparks complaint

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Opposition councillors at Richmondshire DC were due this week to complain to its district auditor about a decision to share the services of Hambleton DC chief executive Peter Simpson.

They claimed the deal with Hambleton would cost the troubled council£30,000 more than an alternative sharing arrangement, understood to have involved North Yorkshire CC chief executive John Marsden. He declined to comment.

The previous chief executive, Harry Tabiner, left last spring and issued an insulting message about most councillors’ political abilities (LGC, 19 April). Jack Neal was interim chief for three months, since when the post has been vacant.

A council report said sharing chiefs for six months with an ‘excellent’ rated neighbour would give Richmondshire time to decide whether to make a permanent appointment or to share long-term.

John Blackie, leader of the Independents of North Yorkshire, said his group, together with another of the four independent factions and the Liberal Democrats, would complain to district auditor Mark Kirkham about Mr Simpson’s appointment.

“I have nothing against Mr Simpson, our objection is about value for money,” he said. “The other option was also with an ‘excellent’ council, was£30,000 cheaper and offered access to many shared services and expertise.”

Leader Melva Steckles (Con) said: “Why should we just go for the cheapest option? What we want is the expertise available at another local council that knows Richmondshire well.”

The district auditor last year criticised Richmondshire’s governance, and questioned the claimed efficiency savings from the departure of Mr Tabiner and four other senior staff.

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