Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Council Chief Executive Officers

An extract from an article by Kathy Pollard and Caroline Page

Those who defend bloated public-sector salaries justify them by comparison with the private sector. But real life isn’t reality TV and a county council is hardly the Dragons’ Den.

The chief executive of a publicly listed company is tasked with taking shareholders’ money and making it multiply. They need to be entrepreneurial, risk-taking. The value of their shares can go down as well as up and it is fair to remunerate them accordingly.

The chief executive of a county council, on the other hand, takes no risks, makes no profits – all they are asked to do is to spend our money wisely on our public services. Far from being entrepreneurs, they are glorified quartermasters.

Yet a lot of these executives have little experience of real life. All they have ever known is how to ‘administer’ things in a local government context.

Unelected, unaccountable, graced with what ordinary people often feel are screamingly undeserved salaries, they have risen without trace within the largely unaudited, unquestioning world of local government fiefdoms.

And the trouble with being an administrator is that you end up thinking that administration is an end in itself, rather than what you are administering.

Maybe this is why too many chief executives have confused being responsible for a lot of public money with being worth a lot of public money, and running a council with being ‘in with the big boys’ rather than serving the public.

I suppose it is a pretty easy mistake to make, as long as you have self confidence, no self doubt and a well-developed sense of entitlement. The danger is that if the policies of these quartermasters fail, it is not they who suffer and have to make reparation.

Truly this is power without responsibility.

Kathy Pollard and Caroline Page (Lib Dem members of Suffolk County Council)

My comment: Spot on! Now we know why Stoke-on-Trent City Council CEO wanted councillors to sign gagging orders.

Read the full story from the source  Mail On Line

Read all articles about Suffolk County Council on this blog

"All they have ever known is how to ‘administer’ things in a local government context." Here is an example Leave school in 1962 and join Liverpool City your way up the public sector ladder to become CEO for London Borough of Harrow in 1987 and then in 2001 become Local Government Ombudsman and Chair of the Commission for Local Administration in England. Retire in 2010 with a Knighthood and a big fat public sector pension never having experienced any of the pressures and accountability of working in the real world

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