Senior Council Director Posts To Be Axed In Town Hall Shakeup

The Town Hall

The Town Hall


Councillors have agreed major changes to the senior management structure of the islands’ Council with four of the six current senior officer roles being abolished.

It’s the first stage of cost cutting measures discussed at a special meeting last night.

The Director of Community Services post, currently held by Penny Penn-Howard, will be axed along with that of the Chief Technical Officer, Neville Gardner’s position.

The Director of Finance and Resources position, held by Peter Lawrence-Roberts, is also going, as will Craig Dryden’s position of Chief Planning and Economic Development Officer.

The Chief Fire Officer role currently held by Steve Webster is part-time and won’t be included in these changes.

Those four affected roles will be merged into two new ones, a Director of People and a Director of Places.

Interim Chief Executive Barry Keel says the workload is achievable with two directors covering 260 staff. Devon County Council had two senior officers overseeing 22,000 people, he says.

The senior officers affected will be offered redundancy and will be able to apply for the new positions along with applicants from the mainland.

From Radio Scilly

Barry Keel
Hear our exclusive interview with interim CEO Barry Keel

The Council needs to shave around £600,000 off annual running costs. This restructuring will save around £150,000 but it’s not enough. So there’ll be a second round of reorganisation within lower pay grades, with service changes and job losses to make up the financial shortfall.

Mr Keel says he wants the people who are appointed to the two new director roles to identifying ways to save money and streamline operations while maintaining the best possible service.

He says he’s aiming to make the islands’ Council “fit for purpose” for the next 5 years.

There will also be a new, full-time, Scilly-based Chief Executive. A national search to find a suitable applicant will begin within weeks.

Some councillors have suggested a fixed term contract for the chief but Barry says that’s difficult to achieve within employment law and members should score the performance of the CEO and act accordingly if she or he doesn’t meet targets.

There’ll be a consultation period when roles that will be abolished are identified and a fair redundancy package for all staff is being worked on. Staff whose jobs are at risk will be advised.

Barry says he’d prefer all director-level staff to be based here in Scilly rather than commuting back to the mainland. He feels there’s more commitment from staff if they live on the patch.

Every aspect of the Council’s work and service delivery needs scrutiny to see whether it’s as efficient as it can be, says Mr Keel, adding that most local authorities on the mainland did this years ago, when they saw “the writing on the wall.”

32 Responses to Senior Council Director Posts To Be Axed In Town Hall Shakeup

  1. Ally G June 16, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    Nobby, I think that you’ll find that Asda and Tesco have great graduate schemes which are well subscribed, moreover there are 100’s of people up and down the land working hard for their customers and employers in various supermarkets. Do I detect a touch of snobbery in your comments?
    Thank you all the staff in the Coop I think that you do a great job putting up with us customers on Sundays, Bank Holidays and up to 10 o’clock in the evening. I’m sure that you feel that you are making a positive contribution to our community.
    What do you do Nobby? Maybe it’s time that you stopped hiding behind your pseudonym and put a name to your comments.
    Ally G (Alison Gardner )

  2. Kev Wright June 14, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Ian T – regarding your last statement – I quite agree! But unfortunately that’s what was done in most, if not all cases. They were given council or Duchy rents.

  3. yet another islander June 13, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    I agree with you Kev. I’m all for people getting out there and working!

    • Kev Wright June 13, 2013 at 3:29 pm

      It’s not a case of getting people out there and working – people are doing that anyway. But if they knew they’d have better chances of promotion or of obtaining higher positions then surely they’d be happier and more likely to bother getting extra training. It’s difficult to find something non-tourism related to do here at the best of times, particularly while we have a lull in tourism. This is part of the reason that I’ve taken up music journalism. It may not pay much (yet) and means I’m working up to 12 hours some days but at least it’s giving it a go and diversifying. We’ve taken it from one person to a dozen writers in five different countries in the course of two years. The internet can be a useful tool and proves that people in Scilly can use their skills from afar if they put their minds to it.

  4. Linda June 13, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Nobby Nobbs
    Think it is time you bought took a happy pill and stop taking in the sour. Sit down with us oldies and take on board the experience they could offer YOU

  5. Liz Martland June 13, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Vince ? maybe you should have a look at this article from The Plymouth Herald on 28th February 2012 regarding Barry Keel: Not that long ago is it.
    When this community was informed Mr Keel was being appointed to help our council I looked him up & found this information ‘Mr Keel, who retired from his post last year, is credited with improving performance and gaining the “Best Achieving Council of the Year” award for Plymouth in 2010’. So he certainly comes highly recommended, we just have to wait & see. The state of our Council couldn’t have been much worse & the morale of the community was at an all time low.
    Oh incidentally, the definition of a Genius ‘A genius is a person who displays exceptional intellectual ability, creativity, or originality, typically to a degree that is associated with the achievement of unprecedented insight.’ If Mr Keel ‘delivers the goods’ I think he would be worthy of this description.

  6. Vince June 13, 2013 at 10:09 am

    Liz, you or I cannot comment on the job that barry Keel has done until we see it in action and functioning.

    My personal feeling is that sacking a load of people at Plymouth City Council isn’t the work of a genius. I’m not saying he was wrong to do it, but it’s unclear how much he had to do with the original mess that was made, and it’s unclear if there were other options open to the Council like reducing the quality of some services, or selling property that wasnt needed, or generating more income.

    It would be very interesting to revisit Plymouth now and see how well his restructure has endured, and how well they are performing now.

    I dont think it takes a genius to sort out our local issues, I certainly don’t think it takes an experienced expensive CEO who has worked in locations and settings that are completely inappropriate to compare to ourselves.

    If you buy-in these people then you are basically buying their CV, their history. We aren’t necessarily securing our future by bringing in someone with a great past, who achieved some success in a totally different environment.

    Take football managers as a comparison if you will. Mourinho in charge of Maccelsfield Town likely isnt going to be the unqualified success he was at massive clubs where he could afford to restructure with abandon.

    We need a CEO who will roll his sleeves up and muck in. He/she also needs to be a leader, the islands are in a bit of a dark place at the moment, we’re 85% reliant on tourism and tourism numbers are dwindling, we need a CEO who will factor that in for EVERY decision that they make, from buying stationary to securing transport links.

    • Kev Wright June 13, 2013 at 11:22 am

      Not necessarily true. To use your footballing analogy – Sir Alex Ferguson took St Mirren (maybe the English equivalent to Macclesfield Town) and promoted them two divisions to the top flight. He also took Aberdeen (hardly a big club with massive funds) and won the Scottish title 3 times – the first time for 15 years that it hadn’t been won by Celtic or Rangers – since then no club other than Celtic or Rangers has won it. He also won European trophies with them.

      So the right man can make a big difference ANYWHERE. Whether Mr Keel is the Alex Ferguson of CEOs I very much doubt, but with the right person in charge things can change drastically. No, what’s happened hasn’t taken a genius, and there’s still A LOT of work to be done. But it did take guts and it is a start.

      Actually Sir Alex is out of a job now. Might be worth the council giving him a bell. He wouldn’t take any nonsense…

  7. Liz Martland June 13, 2013 at 8:51 am

    Well if nobby nobbs wants to reduce the numbers of old people & cars here, I’d better fetch me coat & take me gas guzzler with me 😉

  8. maggiemay June 13, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Nobby Nobbs, don’t loose sight of the fact that you will be old one day!!!!! Once again, I repeat myself, I think you are in the wrong job.

  9. Liz Martland June 13, 2013 at 8:44 am

    I would like to point out that Barry Keel has been brought in from the mainland to sort out this outrageous mess our Council is in because he has the knowledge, experience & commitment to do so. These are the qualities that are important in considering who should run these islands, whatever their position on the Council either from the mainland or local.

  10. Tom D June 13, 2013 at 12:01 am

    Some very bitter comments here. Todd, you post regularly exposing your prejudices and ill informed opinions. Whether you think the redundancies are deserved or not, these people are human beings with families and financial commitments, so to show glee at their situation is reprehensible. I am glad that rationalisation has happened and a leaner management structure is being put in place, but remember the people affected are deserving of some degree of compassion, whether you like them or not.

  11. yet another islander June 12, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    Nobby, how do you propose reducing the number of old people? I will await your response

  12. Todd Stevens June 12, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    : ) I said to one of these officers that one day I would show my full appreciation. It was only a matter of time – Gotchya- Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha ha!

    • Hecuba June 12, 2013 at 8:39 pm

      They’ll be the ones laughing all the way to the bank though, Todd. I’ve got a funny feeling that the last laugh isn’t going to be yours in this instance…

  13. Tony June 12, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    I hope this works. I hope that local people are preferred for the senior positions as well, albeit with training being mandatory, perhaps long distance learning. I really don’t trust mainland corporates, we’ve been here before.

    You don’t come from the mainland and just pick this up overnight, we need to hit the ground running.

    People with lovely shoes, smart suits and big face watches, does NOT mean they have the answers for us, to our betterment. Lots of very selfish, very cunning people will be grabbing application forms and practising their ‘pitches’ to us in the hope of grabbing a ‘cushy’ £50k job.

    • Nobby Nobbs June 12, 2013 at 10:01 pm

      I’ll be one them 🙂

  14. jenny green June 12, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    As much as we should show compassion to people who may loose their jobs- the decision to reduce the number of the highest paid Isles of Scilly Council Senior Officers vindicates those people in 2010 who raised their concerns, sometimes, via this medium, at the decision to award a select few council employees very high wage increases and extra supplement. If I recall, evidence quoted by those who raised their concerns reflects Mr Keels view on what has been happening in LAs on the mainland.

  15. Kev Wright June 12, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    There we go. Turns out the new guy is better than the old one, just like I’d hoped. Give him a chance. As for the job losses, well I expect some of them may opt for early retirement – they’ve probably saved enough money anyway – some will inevitably be given other positions with a lesser salary – and one doesn’t even live here anyway! So I think this is a win-win situation and can’t really see who’s losing out.

    I hope in the future that more positions in the town hall can be filled by locals (and I hope that as few locals as possible lose their jobs if further cuts do take place) and agree with everything Cap’n says. This will naturally free up housing to local people. Another bonus. Well done Mr Keel.

    • Hecuba June 12, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      Have you listened to the interview with Mr Keel though, Kev? He doesn’t rule out the fact that accommodation may have to be provided to attract the right candidate. My guess is, therefore, that accommodation WILL have to be provided to attract the right candidate – not many can afford to buy here and it would be a silly gamble, given what these jobs are like and how miserable they may appear to incomers – to sell a home on the mainland to move to the islands. At least one of the members of staff who is mentioned as being in line for redundancy owns their home and one lives away. I don’t know about the other two, but it wouldn’t surprise me if no homes are freed up ‘for locals’ at all. Unless, of course, we have locals who are qualified and able to fill the advertised positions… Roll up, roll up! All ye with specialist degrees, management and budgetary experience apply to the town hall!

      • Kev Wright June 12, 2013 at 7:21 pm

        Yes but even one extra house will be a bonus! Plus it sounds as though the influx of mainland workers will slow due to less positions being needed in the town hall and so on in the long run.

        So over the course of a few years this may well open up a few more houses to local people – even if it’s only half a dozen it all helps. I’d like to see people who already live here and work for the council keeping their jobs, and people who are here temporarily or part time being the ones whose jobs have to be scrapped. This won’t affect their lives as much as it would full time locals.

        There are plenty of young local people working in the town hall – if some of the spots held by part timers who own houses on the mainland and can easily get work on the mainland are needed – then give these locals the training to do it. Give them a promotion and see what they can do – give the poor buggers a chance instead of dragging people in at high cost from afar all the bloody time! Some positions this will have to be the case for – but surely not all! It’s not the complete answer yet, but it is a step in the right direction.

      • Ian T. June 13, 2013 at 9:02 am

        The reason not many can afford to buy houses in Scilly is that they are overpriced in the current market. You have only to look at the number for sale compared with twenty years ago to realise this. Back then you had to be ‘in the know’ or quick off the mark to secure one.

        • Kev Wright June 13, 2013 at 9:44 am

          I was actually talking about social housing, Ian. Many council workers are given social housing – they don’t buy properties here! It will free up some social housing to local families I hope.

          • Ian T. June 14, 2013 at 8:26 am

            OK Kev but was it really necessary to provide social housing for highly paid Council employees in the first place? One suspects that some have ‘done very nicely, thanks’ by retaining their mainland properties. South Devon has some of the very highest property prices in the UK but I don’t see any houses being provided for Council workers here.

  16. happy chappy June 12, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Interim Chief Executive Barry Keel says the workload is achievable with two directors covering 260 staff. Devon County Council had two senior officers overseeing 22,000 people, he says.

    If DCC can manage with two senior officers overseeing 22,000 people, ie one person per 11,000 people, one could ask why ONE director here would not be sufficient.

    • Kev Wright June 12, 2013 at 4:57 pm

      Some people are never happy are they 🙂

      Read what Cap’n has to say. Wouldn’t it be great if we lived in a community like that instead of all sounding like a load of moaning, bitter old women all the time?

      This is a step in the right direction. Let’s take it and move on from there and try and make Scilly a better place.

  17. Mike Brown June 12, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    How refreshing!
    Well done Barry Keel and well done councillors.
    The dark days of massive pay rises & huge expenses are over 🙂

  18. Cap'n June 12, 2013 at 10:41 am

    Very true in terms of living on the islands, the senior officers need to have ‘skin in the game’ in order to see them hit targets and make full use of their time and for us to see value in their salary.

    There also needs to be a culture of senior officers having an open door for communications. Too often things are intercepted and never passed on to the senior officers, or never fully considered by them, just palmed off. People need to be satisfied that their concerns and even suggestions are heard by the most senior people. Everyone’s busy, sure, but if we start letting senior heads go back in the sand again then we’ll be back where we started within 5 years.

    The Council can no longer ignore the plight of housing, and the shrinkage in the jobs market. It’s not going to go away by ignoring it and hoping for a ‘good summer’, or by building 3 new houses every couple of years. It’s time to man-up and take a hold of the situation, control it, don’t let us just continue to blow in the wind. We need to re-evaluate the conditions upon which people are offered housing here, and it that means a change in legislation then let’s get on with it. Another suggestion would be to charge massive business rates to local employers who employ mainland workers, because in the end it is the local authority who have to pick up the pieces when the mainland workers get pregnant and stay. Harsh, but we need a solution. The other solution is building more properties and stop this unsustainable charade with AONB and planning. It’s either one or the other, take your pick.

    We’ve got an ageing population and the social housing to allow single elderly people to move into purpose built accomodation will be welcome, but it won’t solve this on any substantial level.

    Let’s start to train young people here on Scilly, let’s give them a chance, a shot, the potential, the right, to expect a career on the islands that they grew up on. Let’s invest in fishermen of the future, in flower farming, in using new digital technology, in building, in boating, in gardening, in the fire service, in retail. Let’s make working in the co-op a positive career option, like it is on the mainland working for Tescos and Asda.

    Let’s take control of the car/traffic/parking situation. Let’s set a limit, let’s lean towards reducing the number, let’s offer alternatives, let’s lead the way. Let’s invest in electric cars, set up some recharging points around the islands.

    People get all gloomy and frustrated with the future of the islands, but it’s all within our control, it can be an exciting future if we dream and work together. The senior officers of the council are there to be told what to do by big-thinking and big-dreaming councillors, and if you don’t think your councillors are dreaming big enough then you’ve got to let them know and give them ideas, it’s your duty to inspire them.

    • Nobby Nobbs June 12, 2013 at 4:08 pm

      With regard to the housing shortage, wait until phase two is complete, Then I think you’ll find a large number of council houses suddenly become available.

      Working in Tesco or Asda is not a positive career step, ever!

      You’re right about reducing the number of cars and old people though.
      Personally I think the future is a renewable energy economy

      • Malcolm Martland June 12, 2013 at 10:56 pm

        Hi Nobby! While I usually agree with your comments I am a bit concerned how you propose to reduce the number of old people! Euthanasia is a bit over the top for our friendly islands.

  19. Henry June 12, 2013 at 9:00 am

    So! only two in reality then and they can reapply….ha ha! you guys!