Councils set to get joint chief executive are "chalk and cheese", says councillor

Evesham Journal: Councillor Liz Tucker voted against merger of chief executives. Councillor Liz Tucker voted against merger of chief executives.

THE decision for two council's described as "chalk and cheese" to share a chief executive has been welcomed by many as a chance to save money.

Plans to merge the two positions at Wychavon and Malvern Hills District Councils to reduce costs were agreed on by both council's in late June.

The move will see current executive positions, held by Jack Hegarty at Wychavon and Chris Bocock at Malvern, merged. The two senior staff currently earn between £100,000 and £107,004 but the new position would see up to a 15 percent increase on the salary.

The share - which will be in place by October 1 and aims to save £60,000 annually - will help secure the future of the councils and there is said to be no proposal on the table to get rid of any senior management.

The ballot saw most councillors at Wychavon backing the plans while the decision split Malvern Hills District Council, leaving the chairman to cast the deciding vote.

But some councillors have warned the decision to get into bed with Malvern is a bad one.

Cllr Liz Tucker was one of four, including Cllr Wendy Dyke, Cllr Frances Smith and Cllr John Smith, to go against the plans.

"The briefings started talking about joint team management teams and moving things around. One can think about a closer union down the track.

"I don't see how we can keep the ethos and efficiency of Wychavon, which in my view is streets ahead of Malvern Hills. I worry that would be lost in the wash.

"I just think the two councils are chalk and cheese.

"There are very volatile meetings at Malvern Hills, a very different set up to the way in which Wychavon has worked.

"We have a very well run and efficient council, even if they don't always do what I want them to."

Yet Cllr Jim Bulman, who was among the 27 in favour of the move, said it was a change to get some public money back into the community.

"We have to change the way we are working in order to save money. Hopefully the money saved can be funnelled back into the community."

A decision on who will take on the new position - which is expected to go to full council this summer for approval - also caused some controversy with Wychavon voting to keep one of the two current chief executives and Malvern Hills hoping to open up the position.

Answering concerns a spokesperson for Wychavon District Council said both councils will retain independence and democratic systems, adding they hoped it would make the processes more efficient and give the shared chief executive a stronger voice in the county.

They also confirmed there are no plans to create new positions but the appointed executive will be asked to come forward with efficiency plans regarding a review of the management resources.

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