Thinktank to examine shared chief model

Author: Ruth Keeling, Local Government Chronicle   |  

Research has been commissioned into the success of shared chief executives as the number of new appointments tails off.

The LGA has asked thinktank Localis to carry out the work examining the experiences of about seven or eight councils that have implemented or tried to implement a shared chief executive arrangement.

The research has been commissioned at a time when the appeal of sharing a chief executive appears to be waning, and as authorities such as Wiltshire Council and Hastings BC decide to do without a chief executive altogether.

Last month Torridge DC announced it intended to cease sharing Teignbridge DC’s chief executive Nicola Bulbeck, left.

Chichester DC also announced it would be recruiting its own chief executive after considering and rejecting the option of a shared chief.

The LGA’s investigation into the shared chief executive model is part of a wider evaluation of new ways of delivering services, including the use of shared services and social enterprises.

Brian Reynolds, head of the LGA’s productivity team, said: ?A lot of councils have put a lot of effort into looking at new models of delivery, including shared services, sharing chief executives or social enterprises.

?Our team and the LGA’s improvement board seeks to look at all these and is trying to evaluate them in terms of pounds, shilling and pence.

?That can be easier said than done because it can be difficult to get both the costs of putting these things in place and the savings expected to be delivered.?

Localis’ research is expected to be completed by January. But Mr Reynolds said producing hard figures for the costs and savings of new models could prove difficult.

?Councils are all quite good at telling the story behind a new way of working but when it comes to costs and savings the good examples are noticeable in their rarity,? he said.

The tri-borough work by Kensington & Chelsea RBC, Westminster City Council and Hammersmith & Fulham LBC was a good example of where the report had contained detailed figures, he added.

?It won’t be an audit, but we want someone to look more closely at the numbers,? he said. ?Currently there is something there, but not much.?

No decision has been made on whether the reports will be published, Mr Reynolds said.

In the case of Localis’ research into shared management, it would depend on the quality of the information provided by individual councils and whether the outcome was informative.

?We have said we’ll anonymise the findings to try to encourage people to be honest. What’s important for us is why it did or didn’t work, not where it is or who the personalities were who didn’t agree.?

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