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Clancy appoints ambassadors as council awaits improvement report

Clancy appoints ambassadors as council awaits improvement report

🕔03.Nov 2016

Birmingham should be a land of leaders, apparently. Councillor Clancy has appointed ten ambassadors to champion important issues. Meanwhile, former city council chief executive Stephen Hughes has turned up as interim chief executive at Bristol city council just as his former local authority braces itself for the next improvement panel letter. 

John Clancy, leader of Birmingham city council, often remarks that he is not Birmingham’s only leader and that the city needs several leaders, from the civic, business, academic and other communities.

Cllr Clancy has already appointed four assistant leaders with special responsibilities (and allowances to go with them) to drive forward devolution within the city.

The leader is now appointing ten (count ’em) “ambassadors” to focus on specific issues which are beyond the council’s four main priority areas (which are children; jobs and skills; housing and health if you didn’t already know).

There will be some who say such appointments are tokenistic and simply a way of keeping backbenchers onside, especially as the council finalises the process of drawing up next year’s draft budget.

The next letter from the Birmingham Independent Improvement Panel (BIIP) is expected to be published in the next few days. It could make uncomfortable reading for current chief executive Mark Rogers, in the end the person charged by politicians to deliver a balanced budget.

READ: Recovery and renaissance, but serious issues remain beyond the core.

His predecessor Stephen Hughes has turned up in Bristol as the council’s interim chief executive.

According to a spokesman for Bristol city council, Mr Hughes arrived from running the council in Birmingham with a reputation as one of the best local government leaders in England.

Before being made Head of Paid Service and then Chief Executive, Stephen Hughes had been responsible for finance and resources at Birmingham city council. He left Birmingham on early retirement as a major shake up of the senior management structure was announced by former leader Sir Albert Bore, leaving reduced capacity at the top of the organisation.

More capacity has, slowly, been injected back into the council’s top echelons following stinging criticism in the Kerslake Review, although it is understood further changes could follow the next report from the improvement panel.

A hugely different character to Mark Rogers, it is unlikely Stephen Hughes would have taken to Twitter and public engagement with anything like the enthusiasm of today’s CEO.

The Bristol Post reports that the council’s new boss is costing taxpayers in the city almost £5,000 a week, and is only working four days a week.

Stephen Hughes was drafted in to run Bristol city council for just six months after the sudden departure of former chief executive Nicola Yates earlier this summer.

The article says:

Mr Hughes began work this week at City Hall, and has been heralded as a ‘new broom’ to help elected mayor Marvin Rees make millions of pounds of savings required after swingeing central Government funding cuts.

After initially indicating that the cost of hiring Mr Hughes would be roughly equivalent to the previous salary paid to former chief executive Nicola Yates, council chiefs admitted today, Tuesday, that in fact he will cost them around £20,000 a year extra – or £10,000 over the six months he will be employed.

Mr Hughes will be paid, gross, a total of £104,000 for the six months of his fixed-term contract, with the agency fees running up to £18,850 during the next 26 weeks. That makes a grand total of £122,850 for the six months of Mr Hughes’ tenure at City Hall – the equivalent of almost a quarter of a million a year.

Nice work if you can get it. Let’s hope he is able to leave Bristol’s local authority in better financial shape.

John Clancy’s new ambassadors and their issues are:

  • Armed Forces – Mike Sharpe
  • Youth – Kerry Jenkins
  • Young Adults Careers & Skills – Mariam Khan
  • Pensions Fund – Changese Khan
  • Dementia – Fiona Williams
  • Third Sector – Basharat Dad
  • Addressing Rough Sleeping & Homelessness – Sharon Thompson
  • Trade – Nawaz Ali
  • Free Schools Meals – Martin Straker Welds
  • Young People’s Travel – Eva Philips.

Cllr Clancy said:

I’ve said many times that the future of this city must be a common endeavour. We must work together for the best possible outcome and we must focus on the issues that matter most to the people of Birmingham.

The ten councillors listed above will act as champions for their chosen specialist subject and I have no doubt they will play a key role in assessing and shaping the way forward. They will also work closely with partners across the city and I’m sure you’ll be hearing a lot from them.

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