Thursday, 10 January 2008

Crisis council brings in management troubleshooter

A TEMPORARY chief executive costing nearly £3,500 a week has been appointed by West Somerset Council to steer it through a financial crisis.
Management consultant Dr Jack Neal, aged 60, has been brought in to run the council for the next few months while it grapples with staffing and funding shortages.
His £30,000 fee, however, is likely to be fully met by Lift South West, an agency set up to support councils and promote excellence in local government.
Dr Neal, who lives near Honiton, Devon, was chief executive of Caradon District Council, in Cornwall, for 10 years until 2002, where he experienced many of the issues now facing West Somerset.
Since then, he has worked all over the country as a troubleshooter taking temporary charge of councils in crises and guiding them through their problems.
He has had short spells running Erewash Borough Council, Lincolnshire County Council, and Richmondshire District Council, and provided training and consultancy to Plymouth City Council, Castle Morpeth Borough Council, Gloucestershire County Council, and Dorset Fire and Rescue Service.
Dr Neal said: “I am looking forward to working with the staff and councillors at West Somerset Council.
“We have a joint aim, which is to stabilise the council and to establish the best way forward to ensure more effective service delivery.
“I believe passionately in teamwork and think that by working together, staff and councillors can meet the challenges ahead positively and secure a better future for services and people in West Somerset.”
The council’s acting chief executive, Adrian Dyer, said: “We are delighted to have Jack’s skills and experience on board.
“His strong focus on team work will help us stabilise the council and drive forward improvements to meet the district’s longer term needs.
“Essentially, the majority of the council’s services are good which is down to our hard-working and loyal staff.
“However, we accept that we need to change in order to bring effective improvements across all services.
“We are enthusiastic about working with Jack, councillors, and partners to find a positive way forward for the authority for the benefit of the whole district.”
Beleagured council leader Councillor Keith Ross, who is facing a rebellion within the ranks of the controlling Independent group, is hoping Dr Neal will embed a new way of working ‘with an emphasis on leadership, teamwork, trust, and respect’.
It will include facilitating a review of how the council is organised internally with a view to ensuring that capacity and accountability are aligned to deliver on the council's corporate priorities.
Work will be undertaken to refine and focus the council’s short-term improvement programme, with particular emphasis on financial standing and performance management.
Consideration will also be given to finding the most suitable longer-term plan for a more integrated service delivery model across Somerset, which could include letting Sedgemoor District Council and Somerset County Council take on some services.

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