Tim Clegg is set to become interim joint chief executive of Cannock Chase Council as well as Stafford Borough for an initial period of 14 months.
The move follows the departure of Cannock Chase Council’s former managing director – equivalent to a chief executive – Tony McGovern at the end of February.
Mr Clegg will remain employed by Stafford Borough Council during this time but will spend 50% of the time at Cannock Chase. His current salary of £117,216 will be increased by 15% to reflect his increased responsibilities across two councils.
Cannock Chase Council, which formally approached the Stafford authority to propose the chief executive share, agreed to appoint Mr Clegg at its annual meeting on Wednesday (May 19)
Stafford Borough Council members voted to approve the proposals at an extraordinary meeting on Monday, May 17. It was the first physical meeting to be held by the council since lockdown restrictions were introduced in March 2020 and members moved from their usual chamber at County Buildings to a larger room at Rising Brook Community Church to enable social distancing.
The two councils have been sharing a number of back room services, such as human resources and legal, for more than a decade. And several other authorities across the country, in areas including Staffordshire Moorlands, Worcestershire and Sussex, already share services and management teams with other local councils.
Stafford Borough Council leader Patrick Farrington told Monday’s meeting that the authority had already saved £650,000 by sharing services.
He added: “It is a proven model at other authorities. We have spoken to our chief executive and if he had said no that would have been the end of it.
“It is an opportunity to explore and assess the prospect of working together more closely. We are both Conservative authorities now.
“Each authority will have the ability to withdraw from the agreement if it doesn’t work out after eight months. Tim Clegg will be employed by Stafford Borough Council, not Cannock Chase Council.
“The sovereignty of both authorities is paramount. This is not about a merger.”
But a number of members raised concerns that Stafford Borough would lose some of Mr Clegg’s attention if he was seconded to Cannock for half of his new role.
Councillor Aidan Godfrey, leader of the Labour opposition group, proposed the authority should instead assist Cannock Chase Council during its recruitment of a new managing director, with Mr Clegg providing support and guidance to the management team until Mr McGovern’s successor could be appointed. This amendment failed to gain sufficient support to be carried however, with 16 members voting in favour and 18 against.
Councillor Godfrey said: “Our CEO seconded to Cannock will only reduce his time in Stafford. The role at Cannock will include guiding an inexperienced political administration and will take a lot of his time.
“The cultures of the two authorities are very different; Cannock Chase Council still own their housing stock. I can see Stafford Borough Council will become a supportive authority to Cannock Chase.”
Councillor Anne Hobbs said: “It shouldn’t be just about saving money, it should be about quality of service.”
Councillor Angela Loughran said: “My concern is for our chief executive and the additional work he will have. Also our officers will have additional work. We have a duty of care to our officers.”
But Councillor Jeremy Pert highlighted the success of partnership working during the past year of the coronavirus pandemic.
He said: “We have had to implement new ways of working and new ways of thinking. We cannot be an island.
“There are other councils who share chief executives. If we want to save on costs and resources we have a duty to look at how we spend residents’ money.
“We have in Mr Clegg a gifted chief executive and a very competent senior management team.”
Councillor Chris Baron said: “It isn’t a merger, it’s a possibility of sharing services. I have had members of staff contact me over the past few days and they are all in favour of taking this step further.”