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Strategic Director Managing Outsourcing of the Philharmonic Orchestra Leaves Unexpectedly

Published on: 26 Feb, 2013
Updated on: 28 Feb, 2013
The Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra

The Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra

The unexpected departure of an interim strategic director, a large part of whose job was to manage the outsourcing of the Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra (GPO), has left the bidding process for an outsourced provider of orchestral music in Guildford in a “state of flux”, according to one selection committee member.

A spokesperson for Guildford Borough Council (GBC) said: “Peter Lipman, an interim strategic director, worked for us on a temporary basis. He completed a number of projects and left recently as his contract came to a natural close.”

Mr Lipman agreed that he had been taken on for a temporary basis but when asked if it was expected that he would remain until the selection of the bidder for the contract was made said: “Yes, that was the original expectation but things changed.”

Asked what had changed he replied:  “You will have to ask David Hill [the chief executive officer of GBC], I can make no comment.”

Mr Hill was invited to comment but none has been received.

Cllr Tony Phillips (Lib Dem, Onslow) a member of the selection committee, agreed that it had been expected that Mr Lipman would remain in post until at least the selection of a bidder had been completed. He said that he has not been told why Mr Lipman had left and the selection process now appeared to be “in a state of flux”.

Arranging the future of the Guildford Philharmonic has proved to be a very contentious process. Not only were some defenders of the orchestra against outsourcing in principle they complained, during many of the public meetings at which the subject was discussed, at the way the matter was being handled.

As well as delays, there have been accusations of decisions being taken behind closed doors, complaints that affected staff were being kept waiting for years for decisions on their future, and disputes over the accuracy of figures contained in a report presented by the chief executive, following the sudden suspension and then resignation of Jim Miles, the strategic director who until last March had responsibility, within his portfolio, for the orchestra.

Julian Lyon a supporter of the GPO who has spoken on the subject as a member of the public, at several of council meetings said: “I am concerned about the way that interim officers are brought in and dispensed with, seemingly at will, and I sincerely hope the councillors in the Executive have a firm grip on the quality of advice from these interims. This raises a serious governance question and I hope one or other scrutiny committee has this firmly in its sights.

“Mr Lipman, despite my clear interest in the fate of the Philharmonic and my in depth analysis of its finances and options, chose not to take up my offer (given my experience as a trustee of South East Music Trust) to run workshops with musicians and ensembles around the town and borough.

“It seems strange that he should fail to have his contract renewed when the council is purportedly in the middle of a process to try to fill the void that will be left when the orchestra is killed off in March, but as he has not been in contact with me for several months, I am not aware of the circumstances of his departure.”

Peter Lipman worked for GBC for several months during which time it is understood that he had his contract, for two days work a week, on a consultancy basis, extended once. The size of his salary is not known but typically consultants at this level of seniority might earn between £500 and £1,000 per day.

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