Council could scrap chief exec post

By a County Press reporter

Friday, February 1, 2013

 

PLANS for the financial future of the Isle of Wight Council have been revealed today, including proposals to get rid of the post of chief executive and better funding for child protection.

The ruling Conservative group proposals include a plan to scrap the post of chief executive and allocating his duties to a senior officer, allowing the council to save cash.

Current council boss Steve Beynon, who had already announced plans to retire this year, would leave in March under the plan.

There has has been speculation that director of environment and neighbourhoods Stuart Love was likely to succeed Mr Beynon. As part of the plans director of resources David Burbage will take on the head of paid service role until May when a permanent successor will be appointed.

There are also plans to increase funding for child protection, after a damning report found council failings had left children at risk.

As already reported, the plans include a freeze on council tax, for a third year running, as well as introducing a 12 month payment plan.

Council leader Cllr David Pugh said: "The overriding principle for our budget process is to ensure that council’s limited resources are used as effectively as possible to deliver services to our Island community."

He told the County Press this week that he did not believe there would be any cuts in frontline services, despite a £7 million shortfall in government funding.

Proposals announced today include:

• Using grant funding of almost £450,000 to address fuel poverty and help householders reduce their energy bills;

• Pledging to introduce additional schemes to help Island residents onto the housing ladder;

• Establishing a hardship fund of nearly £350,000 to provide residents with emergency financial assistance.

• An additional £60,000 of local funds to support the innovative community bus scheme over the next financial year.

• Allocating £300,000 to continue with the award-winning pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship schemes, including expanding these opportunities into new employment sectors and for residents with learning and physical disabilities;

• Staging another Careers and Jobs Fair, following a successful inaugural event in November 2012.

• An ongoing commitment to deliver Superfast Broadband across the Island, with £3m of Council investment, to establish our community as a major growth area for the digital economy;

• Continuing support for the plans to establish a Solent Ocean Energy Centre, a testing and demonstration facility for tidal power, off St Catherine’s Point.

• Investment in adult social care is increased by £8.7m over the next three years and an additional £475,000 is made available to help improve child safeguarding and improve services for vulnerable children.

Cllr Pugh said: "In what remain difficult financial times, the council must continue to reduce its running costs in order to release as much money as possible for its priorities. This means looking throughout the organisation, from top to bottom, for savings.

"Making the post of chief executive redundant not only yields a significant saving but also demonstrates that we can radically reshape the local authority in light of the continuing changes to local government.

"The leaner we are in terms of our operating expenditure means that more investment can be made available to support the economy and to protect our most vulnerable residents.

"I consider that this proposed budget is both prudent and realistic. It is one that offers real support to the Island’s economy and also to individual families by helping them to meet the cost of living in what are testing times."

The proposals will be discussed by the Isle of Wight Council Cabinet on Tuesday, February 12.

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