September 28th, 2016

More £100k jobs at Coventry City Council despite cuts – as top boss departs

Updated: 7:52 pm, May 13, 2015

A COVENTRY council shake-up of top bosses will create more six-figure salaried jobs – while one executive heading vital frontline services following schoolboy Daniel Pelka’s murder is leaving, the Observer can reveal.

The departure of Brian Walsh creates potential instability within wide-ranging services including adults and community services, education, and children’s services – still rated ‘inadequate’ by watchdog Ofsted.

He is set to be replaced amid changes to the council’s management structure which will create higher paid jobs among the top earners.

The changes create three new director roles – with salaries of over £100,000 plus benefits and potential extra payments.

Coventry City Council leader Ann Lucas had pledged when she became leader two years ago to cut the number of top earners in austerity, amid dramatic staff reductions among ordinary council workers.

The Coventry Observer revealed last November that the top 20 Coventry City Council earners are remunerated around £2.2million between them – a similar amount to five years before.

The reasons are unknown for the departure of Mr Walsh – executive director of the council’s vast People Directorate.

It is not known what the changes mean for at least one of his deputies – deputy director for adult social care, Mark Godfrey. It is believed that he too is set to leave. The Observer is questioning the council over the terms and reasons surrounding Mr Walsh’s departure.

He moved to the top job in the council’s most high-profile ‘super-department’, created two years ago with the merger of adults services (including elderly care), and children’s services.

The department also includes education and community services such as libraries, under threat from cuts.

Mr Walsh was charged with overseeing radical improvement in children’s services after the murder of four-year-old Daniel in 2012, and children’s services being rated “inadequate” last year after a Serious Case Review identified widespread failings.

The department has been in crisis with soaring numbers of children with child protection plans, and others being taken off their families and into care – causing huge departmental running deficits of up to £4million.

Mr Walsh headed adult and community services prior to 2013 when the department merged with children’s services following the departure of its boss Colin Green.

Adults services has also had to implement heavy cuts – including closing elderly care homes and reduced support for the vulnerable.

The department was also recently embroiled in a damning ombudsman’s ruling of ‘maladministration with injustice’ over a ‘witchhunt’ against city housing charitable organisation Open Doors, as the Coventry Observer revealed – for which further legal action had been threatened.

Mr Walsh in taking over the People Directorate in September 2013 said he was “under no illusions” about the pressures involved in the huge department – adding it “made sense to bring frontline services focused on people together.”

Coventry City Council is advertising for his replacement as executive director of the People Directorate.

The advertisement includes a statement from chief executive Martin Reeves saying: “I’m looking for someone with the guts, passion and ability to lead, rather than an impressive set of formal qualifications.”

Councilllors will discuss next week a proposed salary range between £113,488 and £124,295 plus a possible “supplement” to attract the right person.

They are also set to approve remuneration for two other new director posts in the department – director of children’s services and director of adults services.

Those posts will receive between £101,767 and £110,266 plus potentially a supplement to “secure the most suitable candidate”.

The revised People Directorate’s management structure will comprise FOUR directorship posts – the other being a new director of education, which was recently recruited into.

The current management structure has lesser paid deputy directors working immediately below the People Directorate’s executive director.

Responding to our story, the council said Mr Walsh will be leaving “later this year”. A statement added: “As a result a wider reorganisation of the management team in the People Directorate is taking place with the deletion of a number of senior posts, and a reduction in layers of senior management. This will result in annual savings on senior management salaries in the directorate of between £660,000 and £690,000 from September 2015 compared to October 2014.”

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