Council chief executive set to receive ‘unprecedented’ powers during coronavirus lockdown

The chief executive of East Sussex County Council may be set to receive ‘unprecedented’ decision-making powers, if proposals are approved this week. 

Tuesday, 31st March 2020, 10:26 am

In proposals set to be considered by council leader Keith Glazier on Thursday (April 2), it is recommended that the authority’s chief executive Becky Shaw be given authority to make decisions deemed ‘appropriate in response to Covid-19 to help safeguard the residents or East Sussex’.

According to the council, Cllr Glazier will make the decision remotely and will not be present in the room.

In a report set to be considered by Cllr Glazier, a council officer said: “The current situation is moving at pace and requires decisions to be taken at short notice.

Becky Shaw, East Sussex County Council chief executive

“Although measures are being put in place for lead member decisions to be taken virtually it may in certain situations not be possible or prudent to wait for the lead member to take the decisions meeting. 

“It is therefore recommended that the leader delegates authority to the chief executive to take any executive decision which she considers appropriate in response to the Covid-19 to help safeguard the residents or East Sussex.

“It is recognised that this is a significant step and unprecedented.

“Where the chief executive exercises this delegation, and the power exercised is not one currently set out in the scheme of delegation to officers, then she will report this decision to the group leaders as soon as practicable.”

Similar proposals had been set to be considered at a full council meeting on Tuesday (March 24), but the meeting was cancelled in light of the government lockdown. 

The previous proposals would not have given Ms Shaw executive decision-making power, but would have suspended standing orders on cabinet member decisions.

The previous proposals would have also seen Cllr Glazier (or the council’s deputy leader in his absence) assume all the powers of the Cabinet in order that decisions could be taken if the cabinet does not meet or is not quorate.

A message from the Editor, Gary Shipton:

Thank you for reading this story on our website.

But I also have an urgent plea to make of you.

In order for us to continue to provide high quality local news on this free-to-read site and in print, please purchase a copy of our newspaper as well. With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on our town centres and many of our valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you buying a copy.

Our journalists are highly trained by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards anywhere in the world. Our content is universally trusted - as all independent research proves.

As Baroness Barran said in a House of Lords debate this week on the importance of journalists: “Not only are they a trusted source of facts, but they will have a role to play in rallying communities and getting the message across about how we can keep ourselves and our families safe, and protect our NHS. Undoubtedly, they have a critical role.”

But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis. In return we will continue to forensically cover the local news - not only the impact of the virus but all the positive and uplifting news happening in these dark days.

In addition, please write to your MP urging the Government to provide some additional financial support for local newspapers and their websites like this one and ensuring that supermarkets continue to stock them. I cannot stress enough how important such an intervention would be.

We thank all our readers and advertisers for their understanding and support - and we wish YOU all the best in the coming weeks. Keep safe, and follow the Government advice. Thank you.