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Spelman: Mayors could sack chief execs

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A Tory government will dangle the prospect of getting rid of chief executives on “glorified six-figure salaries” as an incentive for voters to install directly-elected mayors.

Addressing the Conservative party conference, shadow communities secretary Caroline Spelman said “executive mayors” would be able to take over the role of the chief executive, with responsibility for hiring and firing staff, determining councils’ operational practices and directing spending.

“We will create powerful new executive mayors to help them bring real change to our cities, taking power from unelected officers,” she said.

“What once were humble town hall clerks are now on glorified six-figure salaries, bumping up their salaries in football-style transfers from council to council.

“Let’s cut that cost, save the money, and have proper accountability on who’s in charge and where the buck stops.”

The announcement builds on the party’s policy announced in February of holding referendums in the 12 biggest urban authorities on introducing directly elected mayors.

A briefing note sent out by the party claimed allowing mayors to dismiss chief executives would “give a boost to the plans to hold simultaneous mayoral referendums in 12 cities across the country”.

Under the plans, the post of head of paid service would remain in order to “report on the council staffing”, the party said. Other statutory posts that would be retained include that of returning officer, monitoring officer and chief finance officer.

The 12 authorities in which referendums will take place are: Birmingham City Council, Leeds City Council, Sheffield City Council, Bradford City MDC, Manchester City Council, Liverpool City Council, Bristol City Council, Wakefield MDC, Coventry City Council, Leicester City Council, Nottingham City Council and Newcastle City Council.


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Readers' comments (1)

  • I am interested that there hasn't been more coverage of Caroline Spelman's comment that authorities that wish to may return to the Committee system.

    I work with many authorities and in a good many of these there remains considerable residual member support for the committee system.

    I can see a risk that this may lead to unconstructive relationships within some administrations - there are clearly different interests here.

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