More changes at council’s top end

The Labour administration is making further changes to the county council’s leadership strucure in a bid to align it with its goals.

At this month’s full meeting of Northumberland County Council, members were asked to approved the creation of two new directors’ roles as well as a new set of pay points in the salary scale.

The first recommendation was related to the establishment of a new post – director of planning, economy and housing – on a salary of £110,000.

A report to councillors explained that this role is ‘seen as essential in driving the Corporate Plan objective of promoting sustainable economic growth within the county’ and that the person appointed would also support the work of the recently-approved combined authority featuring the North East’s seven councils.

The second proposal was the introduction of three new pay points – £100,000, £110,000 and £120,000 – ‘at the bottom of the senior management scales, to enable greater flexibility when appointing to senior posts in the future’.

This would then be used in the replacement of the head of education and skills post, formed following a recent merger of two heads of service posts, with a director of education and skills.

The report explains that ‘given the scale of the challenge for this particular role and the significant concern raised by Ofsted’, this type of salary, bearing in mind headteachers of large schools earn £106,000 to £110,000, will enable the council to attract a candidate of ‘the appropriate calibre’.

It’s not the first time since taking over the council last May that Labour has made adjustments to senior management.

In November, the administration put forward proposals for a radical management restructure with five directorates being reduced to three and the chief executive’s role being scrapped.

The responsibilities of the chief executive would pass to one of the three directors, who would become executive leads.

Later that month, the Gazette revealed that chief executive Steve Stewart and Paul Moffat, corporate director of children’s services, were both to leave the council at the end of the month, while deputy chief executive, Kate Roe, was to follow at the end of December.

The county council’s figures from October 2013 showed that the chief executive was on a salary of £170,000 to £174,999. The pay for the deputy chief executive and corporate directors ranged from £125,000 to £139,999.