Bury St Edmunds/Forest Heath: Seven senior posts set to be axed in council management merger

SEVEN senior posts are set to be axed as two Suffolk councils consider merging their management in a bid to save �2.5million.

The creation of a Joint Management Team, working across Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council, would mean cutting the posts of two directors and five heads of service.

The two authorities already have a shared chief executive, Ian Gallin who was appointed in February, and the reorganisation of the second and third tiers of management is considered to be a logical next step.

Chief Executive Ian Gallin said: “The report I will be presenting to councillors stresses that there can be no boundaries between our councils when it comes to delivering services. We have to make significant savings year on year and we can only do that by making the absolute best use of every member of staff we have. That means we all need to be flexible about how we work, where and who with.

“I am confident this management structure will give us the ability to work simply, quickly and cost-effectively in partnership with the public and voluntary sectors as well as our residents and businesses. They will need vision, creativity and the ability to be innovative about the ways they can engage people in delivering services.”

Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council Leaders will be supporting the Chief Executive’s proposed management structure when councillors come together to discuss the report at council meetings on 1 August (St Edmundsbury) and 2 August (Forest Heath).

Cllr John Griffiths, St Edmundsbury Leader, and Cllr James Waters, Forest Heath Leader, said: “The days are long gone when councils can do everything on their own.

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“We need the right senior management in place to build effective partnerships, support our ward councillors to encourage local action within their communities, and to respond quickly to the needs of our local residents and businesses.

“They will also be looking beyond our borders because we are ambitious for West Suffolk; we want to create jobs and build the skills needed for those jobs ensuring the future prosperity of the people we serve here. Our Joint Management Team will also need to share that ambition and vision.”

The proposed new senior management structure replaces the current posts - two strategic directors at Forest Heath and two corporate directors at St Edmundsbury - with two new posts, simply called directors.

Unlike the current corporate/strategic directors, they will not be responsible for managing individuals or discrete services.

The council documents do not discuss the savings made or costs incurred by moving from four to two directors and to nine from 14 heads of service.

A council spokeswoman said these savings and costs will not be known until the new team is in place, which could be as soon as 1 October 2012. She added: “The new structure will significantly reduce the overall cost of senior management and make a substantial contribution to around �2.5 million of savings required by both councils through the shared services process.”

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