New Northants County Council chief executive’s experience questioned

County Hall in Northampton
County Hall in Northampton

The appointment of the new chief executive officer at under-threat Northamptonshire County Council has been questioned by councillors.

The public sector experience of Andrew Quincey was brought into question at a today’s (April 12) full council meeting held at County Hall.

Opposition councillors queried whether he had the credentials to steer the ship at such a turbulent time and whether he could carry out this top role alongside his other position as director of commercial, place and health.

Labour county councillor Mick Scrimshaw said: “This council is in unprecedented times and I think we might be relying too much on business models and not working in the way that other councils do.”

His comments were echoed by fellow labour councillor John McGhee who said it had been proven that chief executives coming from the private sector did not work.

Mr Quincey joined the authority in October 2017. His experience before includes 10 years working for Transport for London and as part of that role was involved in the delivery of the 2012 London Olympics.

He also has a MBA from Oxford University.

His predecessors have been widely criticised for their management capabilities as well as the size of their pay packets.

Former interim chief executive Damon Lawrenson left his post in March by ‘mutual consent’. The consultant was paid more than £1,000 per day.

Paul Blantern, who was in post for a number of years before Mr Lawrenson, was the architect of the catastrophic ‘next generation’ model for services, which the authority has now ditched.

At the sombre meeting Cllr Matt Golby was voted in as probably the county authority’s last  elected leader. He takes on the role after Cllr Heather Smith stepped down.

Cllr Golby, who has been a councillor since 2009, said: “The challenge is very clear for us. We have got to put our house in order. There are three fundamental things that we have got to get right; relationships, trust and confidence.”

The new leader also hinted that Max Caller, the government inspector who wrote the recent damning Best Value report, could be one of the government commissioners brought in to run the council.

The authority is waiting to hear from secretary of state for local government Sajid Javid as to when the commissioners will take control.

At the meeting Conservative councillors called on the opposition to work alongside them as they attempt to steer the effectively bankrupt county authority towards a unitary model.

It is looking likely that the borough, district and the county authority will be replaced by two unitary authorities.