Mark LLoyd, the Chief Exec of Cambridgeshire County Council, has resigned in order to take up the post of Chief Exec of the Local Government Association (LGA).
Mark, is one of the most effective council officers I have ever met and has been a fantastic asset for Cambridgeshire. He will be a brilliant asset to the LGA and will help to put this government back on course to ensure the elderly, young and infirm are looked funded properly. He would do very well as a future Perm Sec in government.
But, Mark is a product of a system that has seen pay escalation that has clearly got out of control. I do not believe it is necessary to pay salaries over £200k, when pension contributions are taken into account, to attract effective Chief Execs. The pay differential between the chief Exec on £195k and the next grade £120k is too large. I managed to negotiate a voluntary 5% drop in Mark’s salary but that was not enough.
Now Mark is moving on it is time to do something different. This could be just the catalyst to move forward on a unitary authority. This vacancy could be filled temporarily by someone stepping up or by the Chief Exec of one of the district councils.
Should politicians fail to seize this opportunity (as I suspect will be the case) then the salary for the post must be reduced considerably. I would suggest a max of £140k should be the target.
Officers will tell everyone that it won’t be possible to attract the very best to Cambridgeshire on such a salary. I disagree.
I fear that the recruitment process will have already started with LGSS taking the lead. Recruitment consultants will be being commissioned, at a huge cost. I can feel the excited atmosphere from here. But it is now time for a cool, calm review of the post.
Politicians must be strong and stand up to officers during this process to ensure we get value for money. They must slow down the process and have a robust debate.