The council is consulting on a major re-organisation of its senior management structure. When we set our budget for this year we said we were going to look at our management costs and structure. We have to. By 2013 we will have seen a 47.4% cut in government funding for the council compared to 2010.
We lost 40 council posts this year. Our highways responsibilities have been taken back by the County Council. So we need to bring the size of our senior management team into line with the reduced size of our total staffing.
Councils across the country are looking at different ways of doing things. Some councils share their chief executive or the whole senior management team with another council. In Lincolnshire three councils are looking to share one chief executive. In Essex one of the district councils shares a chief executive with the county council. A few councils have decided to dispense with the role of chief executive and to have a small collective leadership team.
We have looked at all these ideas to see what might work here. But we also asked the council staff what they thought. We set up a Staff Commission made up of members of staff below the senior management level and from different parts of the council.
So we started with a bottom-up approach to this restructuring. The Commission came up with ideas for how the council could work. They particularly stressed the benefits of delegating more responsibility down to staff at different levels and for more collaborative working across directorates and service divisions.
At the moment in Hastings Borough Council there’s one chief executive, three directors and 11 heads of service. After a lot of thought and discussion with everyone involved I am recommending a management structure with no chief executive, three directors and seven heads of service. Over time this could bring a saving of around £400,000 a year.
We are now consulting on these suggestions with the people affected until the end of the month and will take a final decision by mid-November. This timescale will then help us with preparing next year’s budget.
Going through a restructuring process is never an easy task. All our current senior officers are highly professional and very dedicated to their jobs and to the future of the town. They have all played a significant part in the progress we have made over the last few years and deserve all our thanks.
But in this very difficult financial climate we are being forced to make tough decisions and I know once a new structure is in place everyone will work hard to make sure it succeeds.