Thursday, July 18, 2013

Cumbria County Council's top job should be externally advertised

I entirely agree with John Stevenson MP that the post of Cumbria County Council's new Chief Executive should be externally advertised. If a candidate who already works for the County Council is the best, let him or her prove it in a fair contest against all comers.

This job is far too important and the postholder will face too many severe challenges not to choose him or her from a wide range of possible applicants.


Jim said...

I have a better idea, lets just scrap the plan.

See as the council consists of elected members, each of which are supposed to represent the wishes of the council tax payer in their respective wards, then why would you ever need an Executive?

Why not just ditch the plan and save the council tax payer some money?

Chris Whiteside said...

There are two separate issues here - whether you have a structure which includes a Chief Executive Officer, and whether the top posts in an organisation should be subject to external competition.

It is rare, but not absolutely impossible to run a major council without a Chief Executive, the law only requires that you have a "Head of Paid Service."

As it happens, earlier in my career I can claim to be one of the very few councillors who have implemented exactly that policy - while I was a member of the cabinet of St Albans Council the CEO retired and we decided not to replace the post. Instead of the structure of a CEO and six directors, we adopted a structure of three strategic directors, one of whom would have the title of Head of Paid service.

So I'm not dismissing your point, Jim, because I actually did something not entirely dissimilar to what you are suggesting in the past.

However, I was commenting on the separate issue of whether the appointment process for the senior posts in a major public body should be subject to external competition. I am convinced that they should be.