Uttlesford District Council will not share chief executive role

DESPITE agreeing to work ever-closer with surrounding authorities to bring down costs, Uttlesford District Council will not be sharing its chief executive role.

The idea had been mooted in an online edition of the Local Government Chronicle but has been totally rebuffed by the council.

Council spokesman Richard Auty said: “There have been no discussions about a shared chief executive.

“The Full Council has approved a memorandum of understanding, which sets out a commitment to explore partnership opportunities around services where appropriate.

“Uttlesford and Harlow are in the process of setting up a shared council tax and benefits service, which is currently expecting to begin in the autumn of 2011.”

UDC boss John Mitchell currently oversees the local authority’s business as it takes care of planning, waste, council tax, housing, street cleaning and licensing.

The Chronicle had said that: “Epping Forest District Council (DC) is in talks with neighbours Harlow DC and Uttlesford DC about sharing a chief executive with one of them.”

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UDC denied this saying: “There have no discussions at all with Epping Forest District Council or anyone else on the subject of a shared chief executive or shared management teams.”

As the council looks to share services with neighbouring authorities – it already does share parking responsibilities with Colchester – not all members are happy.

Cllr Alan Dean spoke out after a meeting on Tuesday last week where a majority verdict insured that the council will search for deeper partnership work with Harlow and Epping through the memorandum of understanding.

He said: “The Lib Dems abstained in the signing of the memorandum – a no commitment agreement – with Epping Forest and Harlow councils to work more closely together.

“It came out of the blue, though it should have been seen first by a joint, all-party committee from all three councils. A meeting was called for this week and then cancelled without explanation. Not a good sign.”

Mr Mitchell earns just under �105,000, so if UDC chose to share responsibilities, as is being investigated by neighbouring Braintree District Council whose boss earns �119,000, it could save around �50,000 per year according to the Braintree model.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance is actively encouraging councils to look at ways of saving as Government funding cuts, which will reach 28 per cent for UDC, kick in over the next four years.

Campaign director Emma Boon, said: “In some cases real savings can be made by smaller councils sharing chief executives.”

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