THE CHIEF executive of Stratford District Council will be taking redundancy as part of a senior management shake-up.
Paul Lankester has been in the top job since replacing Ian Prosser in November 2001 but is now set to leave at the end of March.
The announcement comes after the Conservative-led council revealed it would need to cut £1million from its budget every year for the next five years.
It earmarked £100,000-a-year in savings through a restructure of its senior management team, which is currently made up of seven posts – the one held by Mr Lankester, an assistant chief executive, and five heads of service.
Those deemed to be ‘at risk’ were informed in January and a consultation was launched looking at ways to save money.
The first option considered eliminating the post of assistant chief executive – leaving a chief executive and five heads of service.
A second involved removing both the chief executive and assistant chief executive roles and replacing them with two ‘executive directors’, who would have overall responsibility for four heads of service.
The proposals and the consultation findings were discussed at a recent Employment Committee meeting.
And members of the authority’s Full Council voted in favour of implementing the second management structure at a meeting on Monday (February 29).
Staff affected by the restructure have been offered the chance to apply for voluntary redundancy and they will also be given preferential treatment for any subsequent vacancies in the new management set-up.
But 55-year-old Mr Lankester has opted to take redundancy after almost 15 years at the helm of the authority.
A statement was read out on Mr Lankester’s behalf following the decision by chairman, Coun Mike Gittus.
It said: “I would like to take this opportunity of thanking the council for giving me the privilege to be its chief executive since 2001.
“It has been an honour to serve and represent the council and its communities over this time.
“I would also like to thank staff and partners for the tremendous support I have received during my time at the council.
“The staff of the council are an invaluable asset and have made my role a lot easier than it might have been.
“As the time is now coming for a parting of our ways, it only remains for me to wish the council well in all it faces into the future.
“I have every confidence that the staff can be depended on to do their jobs to the best of their ability, which will enable the council to remain successful and well-regarded.”
During his time at the council, Mr Lankester guided it from ‘weak’ performing in 2005 to ‘good’ performing just two years later.
Acting as the most senior officer, he is responsible for around 300 paid staff and works with elected members to deliver leadership, strategic direction, policy advice, partnerships and operational management.
He worked for four district councils before joining Stratford from West Oxfordshire District Council where he held the position of director of environmental services.
In addition to his role as chief executive, Mr Lankester also acts as the council’s returning officer – taking overall responsibility for the running of elections in the district – as well as being a national adviser to the District Councils’ Network.
The new senior management structure is expected to be in place by April 1.