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17.11.14

Gloucester councils propose the sharing of senior staff

Local authorities in Gloucester are looking to form a new partnership between city and county councils through senior staff, having shared roles between the two.

One new proposed shared post would act as managing director and head of the paid service at Gloucester City Council, accountable to the city’s leader and cabinet as a traditional chief executive would be. That person would also work as a commissioning director at Gloucestershire County Council, responsible to its chief executive.

The post would oversee key areas of spending, such as supporting troubled families, those with disabilities and the elderly. The county council spends £80m a year in Gloucester and it is hoped the new post will have insight and influence over how the money is spent.

Both councils stress that the proposals do not signify a merger of the two organisations. However they do already work closely and several back office functions are already shared.

Councillor Paul James, leader of the city council, said: “This new way of working will help Gloucester to punch its weight at a senior level and enhance the city’s influence within the county council. By harnessing the city council’s community links with the county council’s services, we can ensure the best possible outcomes for people in Gloucester, particularly those in greatest need.”

He added: “The city and county already have a proven track record of working together and I am excited about the opportunities this new role can bring.”

The move follows the departure of Gloucester City Council’s chief executive Julian Wain in March, which left the council ‘chiefless’ and with two corporate directors. However, the corporate director of resources Peter Gillett also left the organisation in June. A replacement for Gillett is “pending”, according to council papers.

Councillors will vote on the proposals at a full council meeting on Thursday (20 November). If agreed, recruitment will begin in December with a view to a successful candidate starting in the new year.

Cllr Mark Hawthorne , leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said: “We already work closely together and this new way of working is simply the next step on this journey. I think it is groundbreaking.

“The main differences will be behind the scenes where we can explore all the opportunities for joint working to improve services or make savings.

“There won’t be any immediate changes for residents or companies who do business with either council.

“For us, this is part of our effort to work smarter so more of tax payers’ money can go to supporting essential frontline services people in this county rely on.”

(Image: c. Elliott Brown)

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