Call for more time over job share decision

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COUNCILLORS have asked for more time to consider plans to share a senior officer with a neighbouring local authority.

Joanne Machers is in charge of human resources at Hartlepool Borough Council. But by November she could also be working for Darlington Borough Council if plans are backed by councillors.

It is proposed to create a new joint assistant director role for human resources, which would see both councils share the cost and services of Ms Machers.

After meeting yesterday, Hartlepool’s cabinet committee members asked for more time to examine the plans.

The proposal would save each local authority £50,000 a year.

Council bosses say it is an innovative approach that demonstrates the opportunities for shared working in the region.

Speaking at the meeting, Paul Walker, the council’s chief executive, said the trade unions were supportive of the proposals.

He added that there had not been any negative feedback from the consultation carried out so far.

But deputy mayor Robbie Payne said there were some cabinet committee members not present who had some questions they wanted to raise.

The Labour councillor, who chaired the meeting, said: “Can I ask that we defer this for more discussion?”

The request was agreed by members.

The plan is for Ms Machers, Hartlepool’s chief customer and workforce services officer, to start the job share from November when Lesley Blundell, Darlington’s head of human resources, retires.

If approved, it would see Ms Machers work two and a half days a week for each council, which both employ more than 4,000 people.

Both councils have worked together to draw up plans for the new role which would oversee the management of all personnel, training, workforce planning, employment and health and safety issues.

Ms Machers, who has worked in local government for 28 years, joined Hartlepool Council in 2003.

She was previously head of human resources at Chester-le-Street District Council.

Ms Machers would remain a Hartlepool Borough Council employee and work for Darlington via a legal agreement.