Latest News

Guildford and Waverley Borough Councils begin recruitment of Joint Chief Executive

4th August 2021

Guildford and Waverley Borough Councils will start the recruitment process for a Joint Chief Executive to manage both councils, as part of the partnership working initiative which began earlier this year. Both councils have now agreed the legal framework required to make the appointment and the Job Description that defines the scope of the new role.

A new Joint Appointments Committee, which includes Leaders and other senior councillors from each council, will oversee the recruitment and selection process for the post and make recommendations to the councils on the final appointment. Employment consultants South East Employers will advise on the process.

Once appointed, the Joint Chief Executive will create a single management team comprised of Statutory Officers, Directors and Heads of Service, and propose an Inter-Authority Agreement which will confirm the legal basis for how the two councils will work together. The new management team will be responsible for preparing business cases for any further combining of services or administrative work that can help save costs and future-proof services for local residents.

While the councils will ultimately share a single management team responsible for the operational delivery of services, they will remain entirely separate councils, retaining their own constitutions, councillors and democratic processes.

Leader of Waverley Borough Council, Cllr Paul Follows, says:

Last night’s decision marks a major step forward for our vision to secure our local services for the future and is a testament to the determination of councillors at both Waverley and Guildford to make this partnership successful. Waverley’s coalition Executive is itself a fantastic example of how effective local government can be, when we look past our differences and prioritise partnership, consensus and collaboration.

“That is not to overlook just how dependent we are on the commitment and professionalism of our officers in order to reach a milestone such as this, and I want to thank them for their dedication and single-minded focus on how we can best provide the services local people need.

“I also want to reassure our residents, our businesses and our local communities that the partnership with Guildford cannot and will not diminish our commitment to listening to you, and to working for you. Our collaboration has arisen entirely out of our determination to ensure we can continue to respond to local needs and to protect our local services.

“A decade of cuts to council funding from Central Government means that for most local authorities, services and staffing levels have already been pared to the bone, yet Waverley still has a residual budget shortfall of £5.8 million over the next four years. In order to balance the books, we are leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to identify further efficiency savings and new sources of income, but we have to confront the reality that we are nearing the limits of what is achievable on our own. Cooperation with our neighbour Guildford will allow us to make additional financial savings and protect our services, and by combining our strengths, could help us both to improve our services, rather than being forced to contemplate cuts.”

Councillor Follows added: “The Government appears to be aware of the financial benefits from closer cooperation between councils, and it is likely they will re-visit the issue of local government re-organisation in the not too distant the future. Councillors at Waverley and Guildford believe that our councils should be core of any future organisation covering our area. We hope that our partnership will enable us to take our destiny into our own hands by demonstrating the effectiveness of that pairing, rather than potentially having a structure imposed on our area by Government. Ultimately, we want our joint success to be a model that other local authorities in Surrey will want to copy or even join.”

Leader of Guildford Borough Council, Cllr Joss Bigmore, says:

“Reaching this milestone is a reflection of the commitment and drive from both councils to protect and future-proof services for local residents. We are operating in extremely challenging times and like local authorities throughout the country, both councils face ongoing budget deficits. Despite being on track to achieve our target of £8million savings through our Future Guildford Transformation Programme, we need to save a further £6millon – 10% of our spending – over the next four years in Guildford alone while recent changes by the Government restrict our ability to act in the commercial world to offset a substantial reduction in government funding. Until now we have for example been able to provide nearly £400 of services from the £181.82 that we keep from a Band D property council tax payment – which is 5% of the total. The rest goes to the county council (75%), parish councils (2%) and police and crime commissioner (14%).

“Working with Waverley is part of our Savings Strategy but we must remember we will still need to make brave and innovative decisions to continue to make savings. For us at Guildford these include looking at our discretionary services and our own assets, which we asked our residents for feedback on earlier in the year.

“Progressing with the appointment of a Joint Chief Executive and a shared senior management team will ensure a solid base from the outset. Our closer partnership working will mean we will realise tangible benefits from cost saving to resilience.

He added: “We understand committing to further partnership working can feel unsettling for our staff, residents and businesses. I can reassure you that we will do all we can to make this transition as smooth as possible for everyone. We are confident that starting this process by creating a shared management team is the best option.”

Guildford members of the Joint Appointments Committee will be the Leader of the Council, Cllr Joss Bigmore, Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr Jan Harwood, and Cllr Paul Spooner, Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, all of whom are currently members of our Employment Committee. They will be joined by Waverley’s Leader of the Council, Cllr Paul Follows, Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr Peter Clark, and Leader of the Opposition, Cllr Stephen Mulliner.