A MOVE for Malvern Hills District Council to share a chief executive with Wychavon has been agreed by the slightest of margins.
Following more than two hours of debate last Tuesday (June 24), councillors remained split on the issue with 16 voting in favour and 16 opting against while Coun Paul Tuthill (Cons) abstained.
That meant council chairman Mike Morgan had the casting vote, who after a brief adjournment, declared he was going to approve the proposal.
It was the second time that evening he had to make a decisive verdict after he chose for the matter not to be deferred following Democratic and Liberal Democrat councillors calling for further options to be explored. But opinion was equally split after a secret ballot leaving the fate of the move in the hands of Coun Morgan.
David Hughes and Paul Middlebrough, the leaders of Malvern Hills and Wychavon district councils, have spent weeks discussing the proposal.
They argued sharing a chief executive would save each council about £60,000 a year and more than half a million pound collectively over the next five years.
The authority chiefs have also asserted the two councils (both currently controlled by Conservatives) already work together in a number of areas but stressed each would remain independent.
They claimed the move would make each administration more resilient and efficient in the long term.
Opposition members raised significant concerns about a bid for upto £400,000 worth of Government funding in the offing, claiming it meant senior council jobs were under threat because of the requirement for a ‘shared management team’.
But Coun Hughes assured this simply meant a single chief executive and a deputy without the need for cutting further senior posts this year.
But the council will also apply for more Government money in 2015/2016 which is available for authorities who have established a joint management team and ‘want to go further’.
Originally the joint role had been ring fenced to one of the current chief executives; Chris Bocock or Jack Hegarty who each earn between £100,000 and £107,004 a year, but an amendment was passed at the meeting to open up the post to other candidates.
Wychavon District Council simultaneously approved the proposals on the night.
A joint panel of members from both councils will decide who is appointed to the position as early as the end of the month.
The successful candidate will assume the post on October 1 while the other will be made redundant.
Click here for reaction of the decision made by all the key parties.