Council appoints new chief executive

Joseph Bulmer

In-house recruitment saves taxpayers ‘thousands’

NORTH Devon Council has appointed a new chief executive.

Mike Mansell was approved by council members at an extraordinary meeting at the Civic Centre in Barnstaple yesterday afternoon (Thursday).

Mr Mansell, 52, from Swimbridge, has stepped into the �95,000 role with immediate effect after holding the post of acting chief executive for the last 12 months. He was the joint acting chief executive with Steve Pitcher for the 12 months previous to that.

He has worked at North Devon Council for 16 years, starting as assistant director of resources in 1994 before moving on to become the executive director of operations and finance.

He said one of the greatest challenges facing the council was the management of changes to local government in light of the cuts to the public sector.

“Local government will be unrecognisable in five years’ time,” he said.

“There will be a lot less small authorities and a lot more service delivery shared between larger areas, and often across county boundaries.

“Local government will be more about managing larger service delivery contracts and a lot less about the smaller local contracts we see at the moment.

“Quite clearly we will have to operate with significantly less money and one of the biggest challenges we have is how we manage those changes.

“We’ll have to do it with new skills, more flexible working and we’ll have far less resources to actually achieve it.

“But we’re looking forward with optimism; everyone at the council is aware of what’s happening – we’re all sharing the problems and are all working to deliver the solutions.”

The council’s formal appointment of a chief executive ends two years without a permanent man at the helm, following the retirement of John Sunderland in 2008. The only candidate for the job, Mr Mansell was originally in the running alongside North Devon+ chief executive Steve Pitcher, who decided to withdraw before a shortlist was drawn up.

Council leader Des Brailey said the decision made in August to take the recruitment process in-house was a “no-brainer”.

“By filling the role internally we’ve saved council taxpayers a considerable amount of money; around �130,000 year-on-year in additional salary and redundancy, as well as around �27,000 in advertisement and recruitment costs,” he said.

“Mike has done a great job as interim chief executive for the last 12 months and we are very lucky to have such a competent person to take the reins.

“We could have gone back out to the marketplace and took a gamble on another candidate but that just didn’t make sense and that idea was vetoed at yesterday’s meeting.”

Mr Mansell’s salary is �10,000 less than the amount recommended by local government staffing advisors South West Employers (SWE).

“SWE recommend that for a council this size we should pay �105,000 for a chief executive but we said from the outset that we would only pay �10,000 less than that and Mike was happy to accept that,” added Mr Brailey.