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Gravesham Council full-time chief executive political row
Gravesham Council leader, Councillor John Burden is appointing a full-time chief executive at the council.
A DECISION to appoint a full-time chief executive at Gravesham Council has sparked a political row.
Gravesham’s Labour council currently shares chief executive David Hughes with Tonbridge and Malling Council, an arrangement expiring in July next year.
Council leader Councillor John Burden says a full-time chief executive is necessary to deliver services efficiently to the people of Gravesham.
However, the salary paid to someone in the full-time position is £105,000 - that's £25,000 more than the current £80,000 paid to Mr Hughes each year.
Conservative leader, Councillor Mike Snelling, described Cllr Burden’s decision as “sheer madness,” suggesting tax payers will end up footing the increased expenditure.
He said: “The previous sharing arrangement was put in place by my Conservative administration in 2011 and it worked.
“I suggest this poor judgement is sheer madness at a time when Cllr Burden’s fledging administration is one of a few councils in Kent to raise council tax, hit our retailers and motorists with cancellation of the successful free Saturday parking and impose a massive hike in council house rents.”
However, Cllr Burden defended his move, saying: “We’ll be able to manage the costs in the budget we projected at the beginning of the year and it will be dealt with within the existing allowance for staffing - it won’t affect other services.
“There’s so much financial pressure now you need a strong leadership. A part-time role doesn’t achieve that.”
The vacancy will be advertised to internal candidates initially, with Cllr Burden hoping Mr Hughes applies to maintain his role.
Cllr Burden added: “In the last eight months, working with David we’ve already saved £160,000 in stationary and office expenses.
“If he can save that working with me in eight months then that one item has more than covered the cost of the full time chief executive.”
The Labour council has already cut the number of council directors from four to three as part of plans to save £1 million from next year’s budget to meet reductions in government funding.