Appointment of Chief Executive and Amendment of Pay Policy (C4086)
The Council’s current Chief Executive, Nick Carter, will retire in August 2021. This report therefore seeks approval for the appointment of a Chief Executive, details of which appear in Appendix E, and for the appointment of an Interim Chief Executive as detailed in Appendix F.
The report also seeks approval for a revised salary range for the role of Chief Executive.
The Council considered a report (Agenda Item 15), concerning the appointment of the Chief Executive and amendment of pay policy. The report sought approval for the appointment of a new Chief Executive and approval for the appointment of an Interim Chief Executive. The report additionally sought Council approval for a revised salary range for the role of Chief Executive.
MOTION: Proposed by Councillor Howard Woollaston and seconded by Councillor Lynne Doherty:
That the Council:
“Approve the appointment of the candidate for the role of Chief Executive proposed by the Member Appointment Panel detailed in Appendix E, who will be designated as the head of paid service when they commence their employment with the Council.
Approve the extension of the salary range for Chief Executive to £165,000.
Approve the appointment of the candidate for the role of Interim Chief Executive, as detailed in Appendix F, following the retirement of Nick Carter until the new Chief Executive referenced in paragraph 2.1(a) commences their employment with the Council.”
The Chairman asked the Council to note that Appendix E, which detailed the proposed Chief Executive, was restricted, and asked Councillors to refrain from referring to the name of the individual or any other details from that Appendix during the debate.
Councillor Howard Woollaston introduced the report, stating that the panel appointed to find the new Chief Executive was very successful in finding a good, experienced and dynamic candidate. Councillor Woollaston additionally noted the appointment of Susan Halliwell as Interim Chief Executive, and endorsed the changes in pay structure.
Councillor Lynne Doherty, seconding the motion, noted that this decision is one of the most important that the councillors present will have to consider, as it will have wide-ranging impacts on all aspects of policy. Councillor Doherty commended the work of the panel in Shaw House, testing, interviewing, and talking with potential candidates, and considering the job description and salary of the role. Councillor Doherty expressed regret at the identity of the new Chief Executive being restricted information, but endorsed them to Council, and additionally endorsed Susan Halliwell for agreeing to be Chief Executive in the interim.
Councillor Lee Dillon endorsed the speech from Councillor Doherty, and noted that the panel agreed that they wanted to see energy and innovation from the new Chief Executive. Asking the candidates for presentations on putting customers and residents first, Councillor Dillon stated that the nominee gave an excellent presentation, and endorsed them to the Council.
Councillor Adrian Abbs gave specific reference to Susan Halliwell, and noted that she would be an excellent Interim Chief Executive who has already had great conversations with.
Councillor David Marsh noted that it was not a cross-party process, expressing regret that the Leader of the Green Party, Councillor Carolyne Culver, was not invited to take part. Nevertheless, Councillor Marsh endorsed the motion on behalf of the Green Group.
Councillor Tony Vickers congratulated Susan Halliwell on her nomination as Interim Chief Executive. Noting that she was by far the best candidate at interview stage, Councillor Vickers reassured residents of West Berkshire that the Council was in very safe hands for the next few months.
Councillor Jeff Brooks stated that the interview process was extremely robust. Citing his 37 years of experience in recruitment, Councillor Brooks noted the excellent Executive search organisation, the candidates undertaking media exercises and psychometric testing, and the intense interviewing process with internal and external stakeholder consultation. Councillor Brooks noted that recruitment was never certain, but he believed that a very capable individual had been selected, and that he looked forward to working with them.
Councillor Graham Bridgman disagreed with Councillor Marsh and the Green Group that the interview panel had been unfair, noting that it would have needed to have been larger than was feasible to reasonably accommodate them. Councillor Bridgman endorsed the other points raised during the debate, and commended the search organisation, noting that they had found seven or eight candidates who were good enough to interview. Councillor Bridgman stated that the salary changes were necessary due to the exceptionally strong field, of which the best was selected.
Councillor Alan Law stressed that there was close cooperation between the administrative and opposition party, and that they had worked with complete unanimity on the issues before them.
An indicative vote of all Members present in the Chamber and remotely approved the Motion.
The Motion was put to the meeting and duly RESOLVED.