The Chairman advised that the Chief Executive was not present at the meeting, as the contents of the report reflected a conflict of interest. The Chief Executive had, however, been engaged with the process throughout.
The Human Resources Advisor presented a report to the Committee following an approach made by Cambridgeshire County Council to Peterborough City Council of exploring the possibility of a shared Chief Executive arrangement, following the resignation of the Chief Executive at Cambridgeshire County Council.
The report sought for the Committee to recommend that Council approved the shared arrangements and enters into an agreement with Cambridgeshire County Council for a shared Chief Executive.
The Committee discussed the report and raised several key points:
· Discussions had been held throughout the process with Group Leaders. The Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council had also been involved in talks.
· The agreement was for a 12 month trial with 6 month review, at which point the Council could leave the arrangement if it wished.
· There would be sufficient support structures in place at Peterborough City Council through the Corporate Management Team. Cambridgeshire County Council would be appointing a Deputy Chief Executive, as part of a succession planning scheme.
· The Chief Executive had refused an increase in salary, as such providing Peterborough City Council with a saving of £110,000.
· As salary costs were to be split 50/50 between the two authorities, it was questioned whether Peterborough City Council was receiving value for money. This was a matter that would be monitored throughout the trial process.
· The Chief Executive would maintain legal and statutory responsibility within Peterborough City Council and would manage her time in order to remain contactable.
· It was advised that train was her preferred option of travel between Peterborough and Cambridgeshire.
The Unison Representative was reassured that Cambridgeshire County Council was making succession plans, and reiterated that Local Authorities should work collaboratively. It was questioned how the proposal would affect the transformation of Adult Social Care commissioning in Peterborough City Council. A Committee Member advised that the proposals would provide a more strategic oversight and would align the two Councils’ commissioning programmes to achieve best value.
Concerns were raised about the possibility of a shared Chief Executive arrangement leading towards devolution arrangements with Cambridgeshire County Council. Cabinet Members on the Committee gave assurances that there was no intention to do so, and that any such matter would be an issue for Council. It was further suggested that shared work was more likely with authorities to the north of the region. An expression of Interest had been submitted to the Department for Communities and Local Government. However, it was advised that this was only an expression of interest and that no discussions had taken place.
A motion was proposed and seconded that the officer recommendation be agreed. This motion was carried unanimously.
RESOLVED that Employment Committee:
1) Note the proposal made by Cambridgeshire County Council; and
2) Recommends to Council that it approves the shared arrangements and enters into an agreement with Cambridgeshire County Council for a shared Chief Executive.
Reasons for the decision:
This paper deals with the benefits of this arrangement in terms of joint working/sharing best practice, but also addresses the challenges for ensuring the Chief Executive works effectively across both Councils ensuring the sovereignty of those Council’s policies are robustly maintained.