Leeds City Council to cut leadership team to save cash

THE first major overhaul of Leeds City Council's structure for ten years has been announced as the local authority seeks to cut the size of its senior leadership team in a bid to make 'significant savings'.
Leeds City Council leader Coun  Judith BlakeLeeds City Council leader Coun  Judith Blake
Leeds City Council leader Coun Judith Blake

The council has said it faces further severe reductions in its funding over the next three years so challenging that it will have no choice but to make tough decisions that will impact on front line services.

In an e mail to councillors, council leader Coun Judith Blake and chief executive Tom Riordan revealed plans to cut the size of the council’s senior leadership team.

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The post of the council’s deputy chief executive is to be “deleted” following the forthcoming retirement of Alan Gay, the current deputy chief executive and director of strategy and resource.

Coun Blake and Mr Riordan wrote in the message to councillors: “The last major overhaul of the council’s structure was in 2006. The time is now right to make changes to ensure that we can continue to improve while making significant savings. These changes include reducing the size of the corporate leadership team.”

Coun Blake and Mr Riordan said changes in children’s services leadership are “progressing” given that Nigel Richardson, director of children’s services, is retiring.

They added in the e mail: “Although it is not possible to cover all the detailed impacts on services or individuals in this note, we hope you find this information helpful. We will keep you informed in the coming weeks about the transition arrangements as we work through further detail.”

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A Leeds City Council spokeswoman said: “Alan Gay, deputy chief executive and director of strategy and resources, has decided to retire after 39 years in local government, the majority of which has been here in Leeds. An announcement has been made to councillors and staff now so we can plan effectively prior to Alan’s departure at the end of March 2017.

“Alan will continue to be a vital member of the council’s leadership team until then. Alan’s post will be deleted making our leadership team smaller and plans are already in place to make other changes to the leadership team that will ensure we continue to improve while making significant savings.”

Leeds City Council said earlier this week that after six years of major funding cuts, financial planners are having to work increasingly hard to identify areas where savings can be made.

In a report to be considered by the council’s executive board next week, it is revealed that despite “considerable work”, it has not yet been possible to find sufficient savings or income- generating opportunities to close the gap in finances for the next three years.

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Councillors will be asked to approve the current draft strategy with the proviso that further proposals on how to meet the shortfall will be brought back to them at a future meeting.

Coun Blake said: “After six years of continuous cuts to the council’s budget, we’re now at a point where something has to give. It’s become almost impossible to make sensible savings without significantly affecting front line services that the people of Leeds rely on. Leeds City Council’s core funding from Whitehall has already been cut by £214m since 2010.

“Over the last six years we have done everything we can to streamline spending and find back office efficiencies, while still doing our best to protect council services for the people of the city.”