After a six month sojourn as CEO of Harrow Borough Council, Michael Lockwood is to leave with a severance pay of approximately equal to his projected annual salary of £180k. There have been detailed intra-borough machinations – such as schism in the Labour group which led to the appearance of a minority Conservative administration – which are beyond my ken.
Instead, this piece concerns the intention of the new administration to delete the position on CEO. As well as saving in salary, the role’s statutory duties will pass to that currently occupied by the corporate director for Community Health and Well-Being not to become Head of Paid Services. Strategic responsibilities will pass to the Council leader.
Writing in the Guardian, an immediate response of Hannah Fearn’s is that this simple act would not result in a smooth transition of roles. I doubt that it would, but this appeared circular reasoning based on a presumption that there is not a world outwith the State sector; and that its pre-existence of the is reason enough for its persistence.
Fearn’s immediately sympathy for the State sector appeared in a subsequent aside of hers that she hoped the new Head of Paid Services would receive a generous pay rise, followed by dismissively speculating that Council leaders – a role filled by an elected representative – are not guaranteed to be suitable for maintaining the smooth running of local authorities.
Such responsibility over the health and well-being of the local council areas – as she describes the CEO’s role in her closing paragraph – she believes is better wielded by politically neutral paid staff whose expertise has been demonstrated by their previously wielding responsibility over the health and well-being of the local council areas; and whose high salaries are justified to attract individuals capable of exercising such responsibility.
On the first assertion, it would appear this attitude is expressed in the elected chamber judging by comments from Harrow councilor, Ben Wealthy who responds “the post of CEO is essential in providing vision and direction which is consistent and trusted, as opposed to the often partisan and short term thinking of political leaders”. On the second point, many high profile failures in the administration of local authorities might suggest the wrong highly paid individuals have been appointed to roles overseeing the health and well-being of local council areas.