Axeing council chief was a ‘difficult’ call

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Members of Amber Valley Borough Council’s controlling Tory administration have expressed regret that chief executive Peter Carney has been made redundant.

Belper councillors on the authority said that financial pressures made his axeing unavoidable and labelled it a “sign of the times”.

Mr Carney, 56, a Belper resident who took up the top job in 1993, was the council’s most senior officer and principal policy adviser to the council earning £95,435 a year.

But following a meeting of the full council it was decided his wage was needed to bolster the council’s dwindling finances in the face of Government cutbacks.

Belper North councillor Alan Cox said: “He has been a brilliant servant to the council, He has overseen a significant reduction in costs and he has done a wonderful job.

“But things do move on, councils are becoming more efficient and it has been identified that we can manage without a chief executive.

“That is no reflection on Mr Carney. He is very well respected and he will be missed. But the council will carry on.”

Mayor of Amber Valley and Belper Central councillor, John Nelson, said: “Peter Carney has been an exceptional chief executive but it just goes to show the sign of the times. There is no money in the council,

“The workforce has been cut over the past two or three years but the rate payers have been protected from any loss of services.”

Councillor Paul Jones, leader of the Labour group said he was concerned the council will be left without a member of staff who is ultimately responsible.He said it was unclear how the council will work without a chief executive.

It is proposed that Mr Carney’s statutory role as head of paid service will be undertaken by the executive director of environmental services, as an additional responsibility. Further details of the council’s new structure have not been released.

It is not known when Mr Carney will leave, or how much the council will save once his redundancy package has been taken into account.

Council leader Cllr Stuart Bradford said the authority intended to press on with a number of ambitious plans such as revitalising and sustaining markets and town centres in the absence of Mr Carney.

He said: ““In these continuing difficult times, we have to make difficult decisions and the decision to delete the post of the chief executive most definitely falls into this category.

“Following lengthy debate, and careful consideration of the reports, the council decided to delete that post from the organisation.”

Despite the continuing pressure on its finances, the council says it has made a further £737,000 of savings since the 2012/13 budget was approved in March 2012.A report to full council outlined further savings of £1.5 million.

Fears were raised this week that financially weak councils will go bust and others will be forced to drastically reduce services after the government revealed that councils in England would face spending reductions of up to 8.8 per cent from April.