District council to end chief exec share deal

Joseph Bulmer

Torridge councillors vote to terminate arrangement with Teignbridge District Council.

TORRIDGE District Council has voted to end its chief executive sharing arrangement with Teignbridge District Council.

On Friday, councillors considered a Notice of Motion put forward by Councillor Philip Collins suggesting that the agreement to employ Nicola Bulbeck be ended and the council consider other options for sharing services.

The motion was supported and the agreement between Torridge and Teignbridge will now be ended in mid February 2012 following three months’ notice.

Councillor Barry Parsons, Leader of Torridge District Council, said: “I believe that with an impending new Strategic Plan and budgetary process it is absolutely, the right time to examine our options with regard to our Chief Executive Secondment Agreement with Teignbridge District Council.

“We’ve achieved a lot in recent years and I’d like to thank Nicola for her hard work and dedication to the authority. With so many changes in the national, regional and local landscape since we agreed the secondment, it’s my firm view that now was the right time to have this debate.

“Ending the secondment will give us greater flexibility for members to respond to challenges that lie ahead.”

Councillor Collins said: “My motion had nothing sinister or personal behind it. This council is member-led, and it is members who decide on the strategic direction this council takes. Now is an appropriate time to review our direction. We will now look at new arrangements to take Torridge forward in the direction members choose.”

There will be a number of options available to Torridge Council, all of which will be considered in detail prior to the end of the current arrangement.

Chief Executive Nicola Bulbeck continues as Teignbridge District Council’s Chief Executive, and will be working with Teignbridge councillors and managers to continue to identify ongoing savings and to deliver the services that the public want.

Councillor Jeremy Christophers, Leader of Teignbridge District Council said: “It’s business as usual at Teignbridge and we do not anticipate any impact on front line services following this decision.

“Like all authorities we need to keep making savings, and we’ll be working closely together with Teignbridge’s management team to discuss how things move forward from here.

“The secondment gave us the chance to make some savings and see if sharing services across such a distance was practical in the long term. Having looked at it closely we’re not convinced that longer-term shared services are practical, although there has been a useful exchange of ideas and best practice, as well as cost savings.

“With both sides now building better relationships with authorities closer to home, the time is right to amicably part ways with Torridge, build on the lessons we’ve learnt and take things forward with nearer neighbours.

“We’re thankful for the hard work of Nicola Bulbeck and several other members of staff on both sides since December 2009, and we respect the decision of Torridge members.

“We are parting with Torridge on the best of terms. We’ll continue to work closely together and with other Devon Leaders to find common ground where we can share services to reduce the costs of running our councils.

“We wish Councillor Parsons, his deputy Roger Johnson and Torridge Council well for the future.”