Did West Sussex County Council chief executive ‘jump or was he pushed?’ asks Lib Dem leader

Kieran Stigant, Chief Executive at West Sussex County Council
Kieran Stigant, Chief Executive at West Sussex County Council

Reacting to the announced departure of West Sussex County Council (WSCC) chief executive Kieran Stigant, the leader of the county council Liberal Democrats, Dr James Walsh said: “Did he jump or was he pushed?

“The financial briefing emphasis makes it hard to accept that he was not pushed. Besides this the leader of WSCC has form, as she sacked his predecessor without following due process.

“To misquote Oscar Wilde, ‘to lose one chief executive may be unfortunate, but to lose two is just carelessness’.

“It will add to an already large and growing crisis of morale among WSCC staff, already reeling from many middle management and front-line staff culling. The financial savings claimed are in any case negligible, and I have to ask why are we to have two people to carry out his former role, even though one is claimed as temporary.

“The Conservative leadership seems hell-bent on outsourcing as much of its services as possible, on an ideological quest to do away with much of local government as we know it.

“It has been presented as a fait accompli, without any discussion outside the cabinet, and without any scrutiny whatsoever by the full Council or even a scrutiny committee. Much of the council’s service base will be outsourced over the coming two years, which will inevitably reduce councillor input, scrutiny, and probably value-for –money in the medium to longer term, and in my view will lead to a further increase in residents of West Sussex who are seeing diminished services to the poor, the elderly and vulnerable, and to young people.”