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Borough Council Re-structure – Changes Explained

Published on: 14 Oct, 2013
Updated on: 16 Oct, 2013

GBC logoGuildford Borough Council (GBC) is to radically change the management structure of its administration.

The changes follow a review and consultation carried out by Dr Robin Hooper, a specialist consultant and former local government chief executive. Councillors, the existing council officer management team and the former GBC chief executive David Hill, whilst on special leave, are said to have been fully engaged in the review process.

All those consulted wanted changes to the organisation. The report and its recommendations were accepted by the full council on Thursday, October 10.

Dr Hooper was brought in in the wake of a grievance procedure being initiated against David Hill, the former chief executive at GBC who was on special leave from July. The grievance is not understood to be connected to the re-organisation and a review had already been initiated under Mr Hill who had produced a paper “Fit for the Future”.

Sue Sturgeon the new managing director

Sue Sturgeon the new managing director

In line with an existing desire of the council leader Stephen Mansbridge (Con, Ash South & Tongham) to strengthen council leadership by elected members, rather than council officers, the report includes a recommendation: “That the Council changes the focus of the management and administration to be service delivery led and there be a reduction in strategic working, management and administration.”

Another change recommended by the review and already enacted is the removal of the chief executive and the three strategic director posts. The council administration will now be led by a Managing Director. Sue Sturgeon, who has been acting as the chief executive in David Hill’s absence, has been nominated to take this role.

Mark Reed a strategic director in the old organisation now, it seems, facing an uncertain future

Mark Reed, now facing uncertain future

One of the strategic director posts had remained vacant since Jim Miles’ mysterious departure in April 2012 but the future of Mark Reed the other Strategic Director until Thursday is uncertain.

Another key organisational change is the reduction in the number of departments from 13 to 6, each headed by a ‘head of search’. the six new heads of service together with the managing director will form a new corporate management team.

The six new service areas are:

  • Governance, monitoring, legal and democratic services (formerly two departments: legal services and democratic services)
  • Organisation development, business systems, corporate development and  human resources (formerly three departments: HR, business systems and corporate development)
  • Financial services, revenues and payments (formerly two departments: financial services and revenue and payments services)
  • Environment , Operational services and parks and leisure (formerly two departments: operational services, parks and leisure services)
  • Development – planning and economic development (formerly two departments: economic development, planning services)
  • Housing and Health (formerly three departments:neighbourhood and housing management, housing advice services, health and community care services)

The six new ‘head of service’ posts were advertised internally to existing GBC employees on Friday October 11. Applicants have until October 25 to make apply. Those appointed will be placed on two year contracts, as is the new managing director. If no internal applicants are deemed suitable for any of the new posts they will be advertised externally.

Within the publicly published report there are two references to an ‘exempt report’. This is believed to be a confidential report on the subject of David Hill and the terms and circumstances of his departure from the council. The first reference under  the heading “Financial savings” states: “Savings on salaries for posts deleted from the establishment referred to in the exempt reports being £365,000.  Costs of implementing the changes referred to in the exempt reports being approximately £160,000.”

The second reference states: “…There is also an issue to be resolved which is dealt with in the exempt report.  The Managing Director will need to consider [this] following her appointment.”

The council’s website (as at Sunday October 13) has yet to be updated to reflect the changes.

The existing entry for the new managing director Sue Sturgeon, who is believed to come from Guildford, still shows her as a strategic director. It states: “Sue joined us in June 2008 from Spelthorne Borough Council where she was the Deputy Chief Executive for five years. Within this role she was responsible for developing and delivering a new financial strategy and led on a number of significant corporate projects including regeneration schemes and a review of housing services. She has worked in local government for 33 years.”

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