Nov 27 2013

Council Chief Exec’s Role – Plans to delete ‘haphazardly constructed’

unison_logoThe Harrow branch of UNISON, the public service union, have issued the following press release concerning the current consultation under way at the council to delete the post of Chief Executive from its structure.

We believe that the Leader’s proposal to delete the role of Chief Executive has been haphazardly constructed with little thought as to the long term financial impact to Harrow Council.

It may be the case that that the role of Chief Executive does not feature in the long term political plans of the current Leader but we fail to recognise the benefits of deleting a position that has delivered £75 million worth of savings over six years and is responsible for a budget of several hundred million each year.

We are of the understanding that the claimed £1 million financial savings would be far outweighed by the huge compensation payments to the current post holder, Michael Lockwood, and the associated costs of paying his subordinates more money to cover the role’s deletion. To summarise, this proposal simply makes no economic or practical sense after a sustained period of political instability and we firmly believe that, if implemented, it could be far costly to the Harrow rate payer in the long run through undisclosed financial payments and associated costs to restructure and pay the Council’s remaining senior elite.

UNISON is also deeply disturbed by the disrespectful manner in which this consultation process has been undertaken. We question the legitimacy of the proposal and believe that it fails to meet the requirements of redundancy law. We were appalled to hear that, as a recognised trade union, we had been kept in the dark until it went public, which is totally disingenuous and sadly reflects the manner in which this organisation now treats its trade unions.

Harrow Council has faced unprecedented political change this year with three changes in Cabinet and the much criticised suspension of the Council’s constitution to enable the election of the current Leader. UNISON had hoped that with the election of Cllr Susan Hall and with the local elections just around the corner next May, that Harrow residents and Council staff would see a period of stability and acts of unity to steady the ship.

Sadly, this short sighted proposal has only accentuated the ill-feeling at the top and has effectively ‘rocked the boat’ even more. 

So, what would the loss of Chief Exec cost Harrow, if it went ahead? Well, we know that the Chief Exec is on a package of around quarter of a million pounds per year, so even assuming that he got a simply year’s salary as a golden parachute, it looks like Harrow Council would be writing a cheque for at least that amount. Add in any accrued holiday – holiday that he has, but hasn’t taken – as well as legal fees, probably a bit of a cash sweetener, and we’d figure the final bill would be around £350,000 to delete the post.

Of course, we don’t know what’ll happen: we imagine that due to the current structure of the administration, it would need cross-party agreement from Cllrs Perry and Idaikkadar as well to back up Cllr Hall’s plans, so whether it’ll go through or not remains to be seen. The meeting was scheduled for late yesterday afternoon, so we’re expecting a press release one way or the other this morning. Watch this space.


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