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Troubled council receives just one application for CEO job after ‘shifty’ staff restructuring

Just one person has applied for Lancashire County Council’s chief executive role and its £200,000-a-year salary.

The current interim chief executive, Angie Ridgwell, was the sole applicant for the top job at the council, which is currently facing financial and management troubles.

Its finances were deemed to be at “tipping point” by auditors last month, and it has also been involved in controversy around a £50m Lender Option Borrower Option (LOBO) loan taken out in 2010. Approval for the county council’s accounts had to be put on hold after a dispute over the contentious loan, which has been subject “to significant public scrutiny” in recent years.

Ridgwell took the job on a temporary basis in January after a restructuring of top management saw her predecessor Jo Turton leave the authority.

The Labour opposition has decided to boycott its part in the appointment process in protest against the lack of external applications.

Conservative’s council leader Geoff Driver called the move an “irresponsible and entirely pointless gesture.”

But the council’s Labour deputy leader, John Fillis, argued: “This is a £200,000 job, with extras on top, yet only one person has applied from the whole of the country. What does that say about the reputation of this council?”

Last year the authority underwent a major restructuring of senior staff, with the chief executive role merged with the head of finance, creating a post known as the section 151 officer.

Driver is one of four men currently being investigated by police, with the council facing claims of alleged constructive dismissal for Turton and other senior officials who left their jobs as a result of the restructuring.

Cllr Azhar Ali, leader of the Labour group at Lancashire, said: “The Conservative administration has dug themselves into a very deep hole to bury their shifty and shabby shenanigans. This new structure was supposed to save money but has resulted in serious problems in recruiting senior managers.

“As there is only one person on the short list its clear they will get the job. We do not blame the current interim chief executive for this.”

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Image credit - Joe Clemson


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