Two of Newcastle’s most senior council director jobs are being axed, in a bid to slash more than £ 300,000 from the local authority’s budget.
In another significant shake-up to the civic center’s top brass, new chief executive Pam Smith has revealed a restructure aimed at creating a “fit for purpose” structure and cutting costs. The city council is scrapping two £ 135,000-a-year jobs including the director of city futures post, which held responsibility for wide-ranging issues including economic development and climate change.
The highly-paid role, which has been vacant since the retirement of Tom Warburton earlier this year, will be replaced by a new assistant chief executive Finance chief Tony Kirkham will also be exiting the council, with his role as director of resources being axed too .
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Mr Kirkham had been due to depart for a similar role in his home city of Nottingham before it emerged recently that his job offer there had been withdrawn by the Midlands authority, which has been grappling with problems over unlawful spending.
Mrs Smith, brought in to succeed Pat Ritchie as chief executive in January, said: “I have taken time to review our structure and specifically the make-up of the Corporate Leadership Team. I wanted to ensure we have a structure which is fit for purpose, cost effective and able to deliver for our residents.
“I have therefore redesigned some roles to give extra capacity to specific areas of work. Given the financial position, I was also clear that the changes needed to make significant ongoing savings to the council’s medium term financial plan, and they will make a contribution of £ 320,000 per annum.
“I would like to thank Tony Kirkham for his service to the council, his major contribution to developing successive budgets during challenging times and his personal commitment to the organization over the last eight years.”
More than £ 330m has been slashed from Newcastle City Council’s budget since 2010. Mark Nicholson has been handed responsibility for budget issues as the council’s new chief finance officer from August 1, while Pam Perry becomes director of workforce and inclusion.
It has been a year of major upheaval at the civic center. As well as Ms Ritchie and Mr Warburton, other senior figures who have or will be leaving include public health director Eugene Milne, children’s services head Judith Hay, planning boss Iain Fairlamb, and transport chief Graham Grant.
There has also been an overhaul in the city’s political leadership after Nick Forbes was ousted, with Byker councilor Nick Kemp having recently taken over as Labor council leader and promising a wide-ranging ‘reset’ of frontline services.