The Liberal Democrat-controlled Cotswold District Council (CDC) management restructuring will cost Cotswold taxpayers at least £333,000.
The Deputy Leader of CDC Cllr Mike Evemy revealed the unbudgeted additional spend at a CDC cabinet meeting on 7 September.
“We made a decision as a council to restructure our senior management and there is a cost of doing that. That is now clear and in the public domain. We forecast that change will be £333,000”.
In May 2019, the Liberal Democrats inherited three senior civil servants who made up the senior management team and who oversaw the running of the council. Mr Nigel Adams was the Head of Paid Service (in effect the CEO), Mrs Bhavna Patel (chief legal officer) and Mrs Jenny Poole (chief finance officer). Mr Adams and Mrs Patel announced sudden, unplanned and unbudgeted early retirements, during the COVID lockdown.
Mr Adams had spent 31 years and Mrs Patel had spent 24 years working at Cotswold District Council. Both worked under a number of previous administrations of varying political persuasions and had progressed through the ranks at CDC. Mr Adams was also the returning officer for elections in the Cotswolds, and at stages of her career Mrs Patel was a pioneer in terms of her gender and ethnicity in reaching such a senior level of council management. At this stage it is understood that Mrs Poole will be staying in her position.
The Lib Dems have admitted that their new CEO will cost more than the previous incumbent. In addition, it has not been confirmed how much the recruitment process is costing the taxpayer because that process is still ongoing.
CDC Conservatives opposed both changes and accused the Lib Dems of wasting £333,000 of taxpayer’s money and destabilising the leadership of the council during an unprecedented global pandemic.
Cllr Richard Morgan, Leader of the opposition Conservative group said,
“This was a crazy decision which involved throwing more taxpayer’s money on a Lib Dem spending bonfire and it destabilised the resilience of the council during an unprecedented, ongoing global pandemic”.
“Elected councillors set the agenda of the council, and officers implement these priorities. We are now 18 months into the Lib Dem administration, and we are still waiting for the Lib Dems detailed Corporate strategy. It is impossible for officers to implement something that does not exist! This management restructure is nothing more than spin, window dressing and trying to give the illusion and appearance of Lib Dem achievement”.
“Both Mr Adams and Mrs Patel were dedicated, experienced and professional public servants. They both knew and understood the Cotswolds and the intricate workings of the Cotswold District Council. We had total confidence that both were willing and able to implement the Lib Dem administration’s priorities if they were given the opportunity to do so. Again, it’s the Cotswold taxpayers who will lose out and pick up the bill for this Lib Dem decision."