No plans to axe chief executives

Councils across Derbyshire say they have no plans to axe their chief executives, despite pressure for local authorities to cut costs by getting rid of high-paid roles.

Amber Valley Borough Council is one of the few authorities nationwide to scrap the job, but Derbyshire Dales District Council, The Peak District National Park Authority and Derbyshire County Council have all vigorously defended their chief executives.

Two years ago, Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles called on chiefs earning more than £150,000 a year to cut their pay by five per cent. He said that those on £200,000 should cut their pay by ten per cent.

The Tory Minister has now gone even further by suggesting councils should consider axing the role all together in a bid to offset budget cuts.

But many authority’s have not welcomed Mr Pickles’ suggestion.

Leader of Derbyshire Dales District Council, Cllr Lewis Rose, said that while the authority “always welcomes advice from the Secretary of State” on budget savings, chief executive Dorcas Bunton represents the best option for continuing “the council’s drive to maintain and improve its services”.

He said: “We therefore have no plans to change our position.”

Cllr Tony Favell, chair of the Peak District National Park Authority, said that chief executive Jim Dixon’s role is “more complicated” than running a local council, adding that he is paid a “realistic salary, unlike some local authorities”.

He said: “In no circumstances would I recommend we dispense with the post of chief executive.”

Meanwhile Nick Hodgson, chief executive of Derbyshire County Council, defended himself as doing a “vital job” for the authority.

He said: “I help manage a £500 million organisation that provides numerous services that are fairly well regarded by local people.

“If I was doing the same role in the private sector, I would perhaps be paid more.”

But for Cllr Stuart Bradford, leader of Amber Valley Borough Council, axing the chief executive post was vital to make necessary savings.

He said: “In these continuing difficult times, we have to make difficult decisions and the decision to delete the post of the Chief Executive most definitely falls into this category.”

Former chief Peter Carney had worked for the authority for 27 years and earned over £100,000 a year.