Staff morale boost vital at County Hall
SUFFOLK has started its search for a new chief executive – with a warning that whoever gets the job will have to boost staff morale.The county council has employed a recruitment firm to look for a new head – who will be paid between £101,000 and £131,000 a year.
By Paul Geater
SUFFOLK has started its search for a new chief executive – with a warning that whoever gets the job will have to boost staff morale.
The county council has employed a recruitment firm to look for a new head – who will be paid between £101,000 and £131,000 a year.
Current chief executive Lin Homer is leaving in October to take over as chief executive of England's largest local authority, Birmingham City Council.
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She got the top job in English local government after Suffolk County Council was named council of the year in 2001.
Her possible successors have until September 2 to lodge their application for the job – with interviews taking place in the middle of next month.
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But an information pack prepared by the council for would-be applicants with an introduction from council leader Jane Hore warns that staff have been unsettled by changes over recent years.
"Our employees tell us that the large amount of change they have experienced over the last few years has not been handled well.
"And yet more change is on the way and continual improvement will require an environment of constant evolution," the pack says.
A county council spokesman said concerns about the way change had been handled had featured in a staff survey published last year.
"There was some surprise at the level of staff concern about changes, which have been introduced in departments across the council," he said.
"But since then there has been an effort by senior staff to explain the changes – Lin Homer went on a nine-day tour of all departments explaining the changes – and now there is more understanding about the need for the changes," he said.
Although the council hopes to be able to name its new chief executive by the end of September, they may not be able to take up the job until early next year – unless the appointment is made from within the authority.
The county council has undergone a major series of personnel changes over the last nine months – even though the ruling Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition retained power in June 2001.
Former leader Chris Mole resigned after being elected MP for Ipswich and was replaced by Lowestoft councillor Ms Hore.
Director of communications Rachel Stopard – who is responsible for internal communications as well as the county's press office – is leaving for a new job in Hertfordshire in mid-September.
And then Mrs Homer accepted the Birmingham job.
Ms Hore said morale at the council remained good despite the problems with introducing changes.
"I think the comment refers to the fact that changes are happening but not consistently across the council," she said.
"We now have a series of change champions. Staff morale is high. We have got through the recent Unison dispute quite calmly," she said.
Suffolk employs a total of 27,095 staff - including teachers at state schools.
Lin Homer has been chief executive since late 1997.
This year (2002-3) the county council will spend £644 million.
Closing date for applications for chief executive is September 2, final interviews are on September 17 and 18.