Senior shake-up on full council agenda

A SHAKE-UP of senior managers at Rother District Council has moved a step closer after Cabinet members agreed to recommend the idea to full council.

Faced with a halving of its central government funding in just four years - a shortfall of £3.3 million - Rother has been casting around for ways to save money.

Proposals include axing the post of chief executive, currently held by Derek Stevens, and having the council’s two executive directors take turns as Head of Paid Service, a statutory role.

In addition, nine heads of service posts will be deleted and replaced with six service manager roles.

The moves would be expected to save more than £200,000 a year. Further redundancies could follow.

Moving the recommendation for consideration by full council on May 20, Cllr Robin Patten (Con) said: “In the past we have made up shortfalls from reserves, but clearly this is no longer sustainable. We are actually now taking steps in advance of problems occurring rather than panicking when they arrive.”

Cllr John Lee (Ind) said he had concerns over splitting the Head of Paid Service role , and asked: “What about unity of command? Where does the buck stop?”

Cllr Sue Prochak (Lib Dem) felt the issues should have been more fully explored at scrutiny committee, finding out, for instance, how Hastings Borough Council’s system works.

Cllr Lord Ampthill (Con) stressed that people should not assume that the system up until now had been inefficient.

Council leader Cllr Carl Maynard (Con) was one of several speakers to praise the efforts of staff who had “clearly gone the extra mile in recent years” as the authority sought to deal with funding cuts.

He accepted calls for more details of how a new administration would work to be made available for debate at full council , but said: “I think re-adjusting is absolutely paramount. This is about protecting our front-line service delivery.”