BREAKING NEWS: West Sussex County Council chief executive post to be scrapped amid £140m cuts programme

The chief executive of West Sussex County Council Kieran Stigant, who earns £175,000 a year, is standing down on January 31 2014, and his position will be dissolved.

Kieran Stigant, Chief Executive at West Sussex County Council
Kieran Stigant, Chief Executive at West Sussex County Council

Council leader, Louise Goldsmith, said: “Kieran has given twenty-two years of diligent and loyal service to the County Council, three of those as Chief Executive.

“We are very grateful to him for his tireless commitment to both the Council and to West Sussex.”

The County Council’s Governance Committee will be asked on 20 January 2014 to agree the temporary appointment of a Chief Operating Officer from within the Council’s current senior management structure and the appointment of an interim Transformation Director.

West Sussex County Council leader Louise Goldsmith says 'no comment'

The interim Transformation Director will lead the next phase of the transformation work started by Kieran and his colleagues and consider what changes are needed within the County Council to meet the new challenges and opportunities facing it.

These plans mean that the functions of Chief Executive will be shared between the two posts and so the meeting of the Full Council on 14 February 2014 will be asked to confirm the removal of the post of Chief Executive.

The Leader of the Council has written a letter to all County Council employees explaining the reasons for the proposed change.

A copy of the report to the Governance Committee requesting these changes will be available on the Council’s website from Friday.

cleared from horsham graphics

In September 2010, shortly after becoming leader, Mrs Goldmsmith was accused of ‘outrageous’ behaviour towards the local authority’s previous chief executive Mark Hammond whom she allegedly summoned to her office and sacked.

The Association of Local Authority Chief Executives said the way he had been treated was ‘outrageous’ and after it intervened Mr Hammond was put on ‘extended leave’.

Mr Hammond had been criticised as a ‘local authority fat cat’ in the national newspapers who with a salary of £220,000 earned significantly more than the Prime Minister.

Mr Hammond received a redundancy package worth more than £250,000 from West Sussex County Council, and within a year was working for the government-funded Equality and Human Rights Commission earning £130,000 a year.

One month after he left County Hall, in October 2010, Kieran Stigant, formerly the county council’s executive director for communities who had worked for the local authority for 20 years, was appointed the new chief executive.

His salary was £45,000 less than his predecessor, £175,000 plus performance related bonus.

However, he was still earning more than the Prime Minister, which drew criticism from campaign group for the elderly and vulnerable in West Sussex, Don’t Cut Us Out.

In April 2012, after WSCC issued a statement saying it would no longer respond to Don’t Cut Us Out statements, the campaign group lambasted the local authority’s pay structure, and said the Mr Stigant’s 20 per cent performance bonus would be £35,000, a sum which could fund the cuts to care for 20 vulnerable people.

Mr Stigant is an Oxford graduate who had been a member of the council’s executive board for more than 12 years before rising to chief executive.

Upon his appointment the council’s chair Mark Dunn said he was the best qualified person to steer the authority through testing times and under enormous financial pressures.

In the first three years of his tenure WSCC enacted a transformative £79 million programme of cuts and savings.

However, the local authority is now embarking upon a further programme of cuts amounting to saving twice as much from the County Hall coffers - £140 million.

As of today, Mr Stigant will no longer be the official guiding the highly controversial process which according to campaign groups, UNISON West Sussex and the Liberal Democrats could negatively impact almost every resident of the county.

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