STEVE Robinson is fairly relaxed about claims the selection process for top jobs on the new Cheshire West and Chester was unfair.
But he was niggled by a spoof job advert in a Cheshire Unison newsletter which listed selection criteria for those who may apply as: “mates of new chief executive”, “employees of Stoke City Council” and “everyone else except employees of Cheshire councils”.
The friction has arisen because four management teams from the county, city, Ellesmere Port and Vale Royal councils are being condensed into one, with inevitable redundancies.
Unison – keen to protect its Cheshire members – was concerned Mr Robinson, former chief executive of Stoke City Council, had been joined by former colleagues including Julie Gill, director of resources, Alan Slater, head of strategic housing and spatial planning, Euan Murdoch-Hollies, head of human resources and Helen Bailey, head of regulatory services.
Mr Robinson has written a letter to Unison expressing his disappointment at the document.
Mr Robinson explained: “What’s happened here is we have appointed a whole range of people. We have appointed people from the existing four councils, from eight other councils, from the private sector and a lot from Stoke-on-Trent have applied for jobs.
“You would expect that, it’s a neighbouring council. We have had a lot of applications from other neighbouring councils as well – whether it be the Wirral, Liverpool, Manchester, North Wales. The bottom line is that we have picked the very best.
“I think there’s been three candidates who have put themselves forward (from Stoke) as head of service who have been successful. There are many others who put themselves forward from Stoke-on-Trent who have not been successful.”
Given Cheshire County Council’s status as an Excellent authority, there has been some bemusement as to why so few senior managers are staying on with the new authority with claims of an “unspoken policy of sweeping away” the old leaders.
Mr Robinson hit back: “Most of those people have decided they don’t want to join us and put themselves forward for voluntary redundancy. Most of the top tier did not apply for new jobs with the new council.”
But outgoing county council chief executive Jeremy Taylor, who opposed the new structure, gave a different version of events in relation to senior managers of Children’s Services, telling The Chronicle “mostly the people applied for jobs and were either not interviewed or not successful in being appointed”.
Mr Robinson believes he is worth his £173,000-a-year salary and compared today’s council chief executives to “football managers” in terms of the rewards the high flyers can attract. And he will have to earn his money because the new council must make £30m a year savings – about 6% of the total £500m budget. Most of the savings will result from having a smaller workforce but the full plan will be revealed in the forthcoming budget on February 26.