Councillors’ reaction to chief executive’s planned departure

Chris Simmons

Chris Simmons

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COUNCILLORS have spoken about the news that Mr Walker is leaving his post and how the council should be managed in the future.

Councillor John Marshall outside of the St. Helens School Polling Station. PICTURE BY FRANK REID. IRN

Councillor John Marshall outside of the St. Helens School Polling Station. PICTURE BY FRANK REID. IRN

Mr Walker’s retirement has left the council with a range of options on the future running of the council, including abolishing the chief executive role, having a shared chief executive with another local authority or creating an executive mayor who takes up both roles, as is currently being mooted under the Localism Bill.

Councillor Chris Simmons, leader of the Labour group, said: “I think Paul leaving presents Hartlepool council with a number of options to explore to find the best way forward.

“It leaves it open to us to find a way that’s more cost effective and suitable for Hartlepool going into the future.

“I haven’t had the opportunity yet to consider with my colleagues exactly how we want to proceed, but we will explore all the options open to us.”

Liberal Democrat leader, Arthur Preece said he was not surprised that Mr Walker is leaving and he believed he has done a good job in his time at the council.

He said he was against the idea of the mayor taking on the responsibilities of the chief executive or sharing the role with other local authorities.

Councillor Preece said: “I think there is problems in local government generally that the top salaries have reached stratospheric levels that I don’t think were justified.

“We must have somebody with the relevant qualities and experience to be able to do the job.”

Councillor George Morris, deputy leader of the Conservative group, said Mr Walker’s departure was an “ideal opportunity” for the council to look at changing its management structure.

Coun Morris said: “I think his leaving was on the cards because he had that much difficulty with his £10,000 rise and also because of his age.

“I think he has done everything expected of him.”

But he said he would like to see a change to the current management structure made up of the mayor, cabinet and chief executive.

He added: “By 2012 the number of councillors will be reduced from 47 to 33 so I think the council could look at a better management structure based on the committee system where everyone is involved and knows what’s happening.”

Independent Headland councillor John Marshall said: “I think the mayor should go into the chief executive role and save us £168,000, or he should do it with the help of the deputy chief executive of the council.”