Top management shake-up at County Council

Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council
Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council

A major shake-up proposed for West Sussex County Council’s senior management was backed by members this week - although one claimed the authority still seemed to have ‘too many chiefs and not enough Indians’.

Plans agreed by the county’s governance committee on Monday will result in a reduction equivalent to three full-time posts, producing an annual saving of ‘at least’ £250,000.

Chief executive Kieran Stigant said the proposals were about meeting a range of challenges, mostly around the council’s finances, but also about opportunities to do things differently and put more momentum into what the council had already been doing, including localisation of services.

The annual saving would be at least £250,000 on top of a £1m saving two years ago, when eight senior posts were cut - just under 30 per cent of the authority’s senior management.

James Walsh (LDem, Littlehampton East) said the county council was outsourcing more of its operations, but still seemed to be maintaining a ‘huge number’ of departments and services.

“I know we are losing a lot of middle management and front-line staff, but we still seem to have too many chiefs and not enough Indians,” he declared.

He was not convinced WSCC had slimmed down its senior management sufficiently to match the pretty drastic slimming down in middle management and front-line delivery of services.

It was at the top end of the scales, where the biggest money was paid, where there were potentially bigger savings to be made by slimming down these staff.

“Ordinary men and women in West Sussex won’t understand why we have to have so many chiefs at the same time as we are having fewer and fewer Indians delivering front-line services and fewer services,” said Mr Walsh.

Mr Stigant stressed that the proposals were ‘on the back of’ cutting eight senior management posts and £1m two years ago. “We have been applying that through other management layers,” he told the committee.

County council leader Louise Goldsmith (Con, Chichester West) said: “In the end we are looking at the best outcomes for the council tax payers. We should be focused on that, and on ensuring the structures will deliver what we want. And the structures will change.”

Councillors agreed that some posts should be confirmed as the current incumbents because the responsibilities of staff currently in these roles would not change significantly and the individuals had already been the subject of an appointment process. These were the director of health and social care, director of adults’ services, director of children’s services, director of public health and the chief fire officer. All other positions reporting to the chief executive should be subject to a member appointment process, the committee decided.