Conservative-run Rugby Borough Council has abolished the post of Chief Executive. Instead the duties will be taken on by the Council leader Cllr Craig Humphrey and the remaining senior officers. This follows the sugggestion by Eric Pickles at the Local Government Association conference that the Chief Exective post is a "non–job."
Cllr Humphrey tells the Rugby Advertiser:
"Our main concern is that as our budget comes under pressure we are able to find ways to protect frontline services.
"We may be the first authority in the country to combine the roles but we won't be the last."
"I had a chat with Eric Pickles at the LGA conference and he was quite straight forward with what he thinks should be done.
"He's not interested in our management structure and neither are the electorate – and why should they be?
"The crucial question is can an authority the size of Rugby justify paying a chief executive?"
Cllr Humphrey will be paid some extra although "nowhere near as much as a chief executive." I think we should be told how much. According to the Taxpayers Alliance Ruby's CEO Simon Warren used to be on £103,000 – which is less than most others.
Private Eye's Rotten Boroughs column says Warren was on £120,000. They suggest that Cllr Humphrey's allowance might go up from £12,000 a year to £60,000 but I think they have plucked that figure out of the air. They also say: "A snip for a senior local government manager. But going something for a plumber which is what Humphrey was until last week."
How much does the Rotten Boroughs author imagine a plumber earns? To be on as little as £60,000 a year a plumber would earn £29 an hour on a 40 hour week. Does anyone know of a plumber that charges as little as that?
I think it is reasonable for Cllr Humphrey to have a modest increase in allowances. The Council Taxpayers of Rugby would probably regard it as acceptable given they would be making a substantial saving overall. It shouldn't be anything like as much as £60,000 given the current climate. Nor should he necessarily have to become a full time councillor although there would probably be some extra hours.
Others will watch with interest to see how it works out. Perhaps there will some extra savings as Cllr Humphrey will have a tighter grip on what the Council is doing. He will have more detailed involvement in the budget and recruitment – challenging the premise of why the spending is needed or the vacancy needs to be filled.
Despite Private Eye's snobbish anti plumber reference somebody who lives in the real world might be more robust about this that someone who has spent years absorbed in the administrative machine.