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Top jobs at risk in city council reorganisation

Top jobs at risk in city council reorganisation

🕔24.Jul 2012

A radical management shake-up at Birmingham City Council is likely to leave top officials fighting to save their jobs.

Under a reorganisation approved by the city’s Labour administration, three existing directorates will disappear to be replaced by two new ‘super departments’.

The changes involve abolishing the Homes and Neighbourhoods, Environment and Culture and the Development directorates.

In their place, two new directorates will be formed – one to oversee Local Services and the other to be responsible for Development and Culture.

It is expected that the Strategic Directors at the three doomed directorates – Mark Barrow in Development, Sharon Lea in Environment and Culture, and Elaine Elkington in Homes and Neighbourhoods – will contest the top positions in the two new directorates.

The reorganisation follows Labour’s decision to devolve powers to 10 District Committees, where councillors and officials will run a large number of services including housing management, youth services, community libraries, community safety, neighbourhood offices, sport and leisure, refuse collection and street cleaning, highways services and environmental wardens.

At the moment, responsibility for the services to be devolved is split across the three directorates chosen for the axe.

The new Development and Culture directorate will give a sharper emphasis to maximising job creation and promoting economic growth, according to council leaders.

However, the changes were condemned as unnecessary and an object lesson in empire building by opposition Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors.

They warned that Labour’s first year in office might be dominated by time-consuming structural change at the risk of improving service delivery.

Coun Alan Rudge (Con Sutton Vesey) said: “We are in danger with local services of creating a monster directorate which would be very difficult for one person to run. I am not convinced we are going to get the right people for the right jobs at the right time.

“This is a risky way of doing things and a recipe for chaos.”

Coun Sue Anderson (Lib Dem Sheldon) warned that the scale of change would throw the council into “turmoil” and there was a danger of important issues falling through the net as staff fretted about being transferred from the old directorates to the new set up.

Council chief executive Stephen Hughes has begun a formal consultation process with chief officers whose jobs are affected by the changes.

Mr Hughes told the Employment and Human Resources Committee: ”Changes to the council constitution which were approved at the AGM effectively reduces the overall structure from six directorates to five.”

He said a private report to the committee would “deal with the process for resolving the leadership issues arising from the new structure”.

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