Council chief exec is ousted by Tory group

Lancashire County Council' ignored the advice of its chief executive Jo Turton, pictured, and pushed ahead with plans to axe her job and those of other top officers.

Tuesday, 22nd August 2017, 4:51 pm
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 12:42 pm
Ian Young, Director of Governance, Finance and Public Services, deputy council leader Coun Albert Atkinson, council leader Coun Geoff Driver and Chief Executive Jo Turton at the Lancashire County Council cabinet meeting August 21, 2017 when the ruling Conservative group voted for a radical management restructure at the council.

The cabinet considered three options for restructuring the senior management team.

The ruling Tory group voted to merge the chief executive’s job with that of the council’s finance boss, creating a new role of Chief Executive and Director of Resources.

It also intends to create three new Executive Director roles - one for Education and Children’s Services, one for Adult Services and Health and Wellbeing and one for Growth, Environment, Transportation and Community Services. The cabinet voted to appoint an Interim Chief Executive and Director of Resources for up to 12 months.

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Labour group leader County Coun Azhar Ali opposed the proposals and predicted it could cost more than £1,000 a day to appoint an interim chief. Afterwards he said: “We’ll be looking for ways to challenge this.”

Before councillors spoke on the issue Jo Turton, who had tabled an option in her role as Head of the Paid Service for a management restructure which retained a separate chief executive, told the cabinet that while opinion from legal counsel was that the Conservative’s option was deemed “likely to be lawful” any decision could also be “subject to legal challenge”.

She continued: “Now plainly I have a personal interest in this matter but the report is not about me but about the future of the county council.”

The decision will go out for consultation with staff and a report will go to cabinet for decision on September 14. Afterwards Liberal Democrat leader Coun David Whipp dubbed the decision “disgraceful”.