Criticism of Wellingborough Council’s decision to scrap chief executive role

John Campbell has held the role of chief executive since 2012
John Campbell has held the role of chief executive since 2012

A shake-up of Wellingborough Council’s senior management team including losing the chief executive role has been criticised by opposition councillors.

The authority announced on Wednesday that the role of chief executive, which has been held by John Campbell since 2012, could be scrapped as part of a restructure.

Thursday's meeting was held at Swanspool House in Wellingborough

Thursday's meeting was held at Swanspool House in Wellingborough

Councillors discussed it at their full council meeting on Thursday and it was approved, but the decision has been condemned by members of the opposition.

Leader of the council’s Labour group, Cllr Andrew Scarborough, said: “All councils are facing massive financial pressures from Tory Government cuts but Wellingborough Council has a sound strategy to replace that lost income with a large number of major projects in the pipeline which will bring in valuable extra revenue.

“But those projects need to be properly managed and led and this is simply not the time to be cutting back on our most vital resource, the experience, skills and commitment of our senior staff.

“What makes it even worse is the way in which this disastrous decision was made.

“Councillors from all parties have been working together on the budget for months and at no stage did the Conservative administration bring these ideas to committee for discussion and debate.

“Everything was decided in secret and they only came to council for the decision to be rubber-stamped after they had already announced it in the Northants Telegraph.

“That’s an affront to democracy and a disgraceful way to treat decent and hard-working staff who have served the council loyally and well.”

A statement released by council leader Martin Griffiths ahead of the meeting said: “The decision to restructure our management team is not an easy one, especially considering the personal impact on a loyal and dedicated officer.

“However, local government has been put in a position where difficult decisions have to be made to ensure financial sustainability as well as to demonstrate best value for money.

“I hope and trust that the steps we are taking will be seen as positive and will help the council to continue to thrive in the face of the many challenges ahead.”

The changes were discussed as part of an item marked ‘senior management structure’ on the agenda, although members of the public and press were unable to stay for this part of the meeting.

As an exempt item, the papers for this have not yet been made available to the public.

Mr Campbell, who would normally attend a full council meeting, was not there on Thursday.