Senior staff at Rother could be facing axe

FUNDING cuts at Rother District Council could see a reduction in senior staff and the departure of chief executive Derek Stevens.

On Monday, April 15, the council’s cabinet will be asked to consider a reduction from

nine senior managers to six and whether they will allow Mr Stevens, Rother’s chief

executive since 2001 and an employee for over 40 years, to leave the authority.

The move comes with Rother needing to make £1.5million of savings in the next two years, on top of the £2million of savings it has already found, due to grant cuts by central government.

The restructuring proposal has been formulated by Rother’s senior officer team, in response to councillors agreeing they should work up a way to save £200,000 onstaffing in the current financial year.

It would also see the council’s nine departments become six, although it is still to bedecided precisely where services will sit within the new-look structure.

The council’s

departmental chiefs or ‘heads of service’ will be asked to reapply for the smallernumber of jobs.

Rother has already shed over 30 staff in the last two years.

The chief executive post, currently held by Mr Stevens, would cease to exist, with two executive directors in its place. The present Rother directors, Tony Leonard andMalcolm Johnston, will be recommended.

Mr Stevens, one of the longest serving chief executives in the South East, was keen to point out the proposal to leave the council was his alone.

He said: “In the face of further huge cuts to our funding, I believe a restructure at the top of the organisation is the right thing to do to create savings and protect front line jobs within the council. It’s our front line staff our residents really value and will need the most in the months and years ahead.

“This doesn’t mean the way we have been working in the past or the previous structure was wrong. Quite the contrary, Rother has continued to deliver excellent, value for money services at a time when other councils have struggled. Our residents enjoy the lowest Council Tax in East Sussex and we have fewer staff than virtually any other authority in the South East.

“However, change is inevitable and I would rather be delivering it in a way we believe is right for residents, rather than having change forced upon us. It is now for councillors to decide if they agree with the proposals.”

Cabinet’s decision will need to be approved by a full council on May 20.