Council property disposal is key to new director role

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HORSHAM District council has confirmed Katharine Eberhart as the authority’s new director of corporate services.

Joining on a two year fixed term contract, with an advertised salary of up to £89,700, Ms Eberhart comes from Croydon council where she is currently head of departmental finance, children and learning.

She replaces Tony Higgins, and will work under HDC chief executive Tom Crowley alongside the current director of community services Natalie Brahma-Pearl, and the director of development and environment Ray Lee, who is also due to leave the council soon.

The appointment was announced by HDC’s employment committee chairman Liz Kitchen (Con, Rusper and Colgate) at last Wednesday’s full council.

An accountant qualified with Ernst and Young, Ms Eberhart told the County Times: “I am looking forward to joining Horsham District Council as director of corporate resources.

“These are challenging times for local government and we need to react to current circumstances and plan for a sustainable future.

“My first area of focus will be the development of our Medium Term Financial Strategy which will outline how we will maximise our available resources for delivery of services to our customers.

“With careful planning we will successfully implement the key priorities outlined in the District Plan 2011-2015 for Horsham District Council.”

Ms Eberhart will also be responsible for helping to reorganise the council’s management structure, and forging new links with other councils, and third party providers via outsourcing.

The HDC job advertisement stated: “Whilst we have successfully managed the financial challenges so far, with the continuing squeeze on public finances, we need to reshape our organisation so that we can realise our aspirations whilst reducing costs and improving customer experience.

“We are pursuing a number of initiatives including the possibility of increasing the range of services that are outsourced or shared with other councils. Working closely with the Chief Executive, the Corporate Management Team and the Cabinet, the successful candidate will lead this area of activity.

“The postholder will also support our future development opportunities programme which aims to ensure, through the strategic acquisition and disposal of property, that we can help create quality places to live and work and, at the same time, reduce our reliance on Government Grant by generating substantial revenue streams and capital receipts.

“To an outstanding candidate with substantial financial, change management and leadership experience, this post offers a unique opportunity to help us move forward and to realise our ambitions.

“Reshaping the way we do business over the next two years will require changes to our management structure, which is why the post is offered on a fixed term basis. This will be subject to review as the new shape and size of our organisation emerges.”

Ms Eberhart starts her new role in March 2012.