Council boss keeps job - despite emigrating

A COUNCIL'S £100,000-a-year finance director is to keep his high-flying job - despite the fact he's emigrating to Australia.

A COUNCIL'S £100,000-a-year finance director is to keep his high-flying job - despite the fact he's emigrating to Australia.

Mat Taylor, 44, is moving 10,000 miles to set up home in Adelaide on the other side of the world.

But amazingly the council financial chief will work one day a week thanks to the wonders of modern technology - and will be paid pro rata.

Mr Taylor, who has worked for Fenland District Council, in Cambridgeshire, for five years, said: “Fenland has been a fantastic place to live and work.

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“I first moved to March in 1996 and in that time I've seen an amazing improvement in both the council and Fenland.

“As a resident of Fenland for 12 years, I'm really looking forward to being able to remain connected to the great things going on at the council.”

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March-based authority leader, Cllr Geoff Harper, said: “When the idea was put to me my first question was 'is there a precedent?'

“The answer was 'no'.

“I then asked if it was legal and was told that it was. So here we are - and the council is confident it will work well both for us and Mat.”

He added: “We have found an exciting and innovative way of retaining his considerable expertise until we have recruited someone who can replace him.

“We are the first local authority in the country to fully utilise modern technology to deliver a highly cost-effective solution to the problem of maintaining continuity when there is a change in key personnel.

“Retaining Mat's services is much more cost-efficient than bringing in an interim finance director.”

The council's deputy chief executive, Sandra Claxton, said: “Modern technology within the council linked to the World Wide Web ensures that there are no obstacles in communication.”

Cllr Harper backed the extraordinary deal after the council's staff committee approved a report by Ms Claxton.

The council has tried to talk Mr Taylor out of emigrating Down Under for weeks - but he was determined to start a new life in sunny South Australia.

Ms Claxton told the council's staff committee - at a confidential briefing - that Mr Taylor's “excellent finance management” had played a pivotal role in turning the council into a success story.

She said that the only other option was to appoint an interim manager - at a cost of £800 a day - and begin the process to find Mr Taylor's successor.

But Ms Claxton said the interim manager would be unfamiliar with Fenland's structure and operating practices “and an interim manager could not possibly be expected to fulfil all the requirements of the permanent post”.

By retaining Mr Taylor for one day a week - for an initial 12-month period - it would ensure “the council's smooth running from the point of his departure, a seamless handover to the new appointee and continued coaching and support thereafter”.

Crucially Mr Taylor will continue to fulfil what is known in local government circles as a 151 chief finance officer -a role that would have required outside help, probably from a neighbouring council, in the interim.

Cllr Harper added: “Mat has the experience and knowledge of Fenland's future plans and finances and he will remain an invaluable member of the senior management team until a suitable replacement is found.

“Mat will also play a key role in supporting whoever is appointed during the handover period.”

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