South Ribble's senior management changes will not derail district's plans, meeting hears

South Ribble Borough Council's Leyland headquarters
South Ribble Borough Council's Leyland headquarters
Share this article

The continued absence of a permanent chief executive is “not holding back” South Ribble Borough Council’s plans for the future, its leader has said.

Cllr Paul Foster made the comments at a meeting of the council’s scrutiny committee at which he and interim chief executive Gary Hall were quizzed over recent turbulence at the top of the authority.

READ MORE >>> Two deputy chief executives exit South Ribble Borough Council
Chief executive Heather McManus and her two deputies, Tim Povall and Gregg Stott, were placed on “special leave” back in May as a result of what Coun Foster described as “legacy issues”.

Last week, Mr Povall – who was responsible for resources and those services shared with neighbouring Chorley Council – and Mr Stott, who held the portfolio for regeneration and growth, both departed the authority to “seek further opportunities elsewhere”. Ms McManus remains on special leave.

Committee member Colin Coulton asked when the council would once again have a “full complement” of senior staff.

“Three months ago, we needed a chief executive and two deputies – and now we effectively have half a chief executive,” Coun Coulton commented.

Coun Foster replied: “We do need a chief executive and two deputies, but I think it’s fair to say our hands are tied.”

“We are very much guided by statutory process now – what’s happened has happened and it was out of our hands completely, but we have to allow due process to take place and…as soon as we’re in a position to move forward, we will.

“But we’re not holding back with policy – we’ve come up with a brand new corporate plan which will be ready for September. There’s an awful lot of work going on behind the scenes. It’s not ideal, but it’s not holding us back.”

The meeting heard that the recruitment process for appointing new deputy chief executives was currently being designed by interim chief executive Gary Hall, who also holds the top officer job at Chorley Council. While the roles are expected to be in line with the current management structure at the council, Mr Hall said he would be making recommendations about the level of senior management capacity required, if he were still in temporary charge at South Ribble by the autumn.

“[Council] structures are judgement calls – there’s no right or wrong and they do things very differently across various authorities ,” Mr Hall said.

“It’s a council decision as to what [the structure] looks like…because you have got quite an ambitious programme to deliver. But there are no immediate issues.

“There are a number of key tasks which need to be done which those two [former] deputies were working on and those tasks are being reallocated to other senior directors at the authority. In the short term, we can manage to deal with those issues that arise [by] utilising the skills of others at the authority.”