Mayor scrapping top jobs to save £700,000

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees is to axe the jobs of seven ‘top cats’ at the City Council – including the position of chief executive – in order to save £700,000.

Following a series of changes which have seen the council appointing three different chief executives in the past 18 months, the mayor has now decided to scrap the post entirely.

The last chief executive, Anna Klonowski, resigned from the £160,000-a-year post last month in order to focus on her role as primary carer for her parents.

“My family has to come first and with my parents’ health declining, including my mother’s life limiting illness, my duties as a daughter are my top priority,” she said.

Previously, she started working at the council on devolution and finance before becoming the interim strategic director of resources in July 2016. She had a career in local government, health and with the Metropolitan Police, as well as in investigative and consultancy roles.

The council has had three chief executives since April of last year; Ms Klonowski, Stephen Hughes and Nicola Yates.

In February this year a report found “a collective failure of leader- ship” at the previous council led to a £29 million deficit its finances. A lengthy independent inquiry by in- vestigator Steve Bundred, ordered by new Mayor Marvin Rees, ended with the release of a report that slammed those working at the top of the council, and the culture which saw elected councillors kept in the dark about the true state of the council’s finances.

Marvin Rees took over as mayor in May 2016.

Months later, the chief executive Nicola Yates left the authority, with a £200,000 package, before getting a new job leading a Government quango on ‘innovation’.

After her departure, the council hired an interim chief executive, Stephen Hughes, before Ms Klonowski was hired permanently in February.

But now Mr Rees is grappling with crippling Government grant cuts which are forcing the council to save £104 million in the next four years, the Mayor is making the post of chief executive and other top bosses redundant.

Mr Rees said the changes would create savings of around £700,000 a year and would reduce the senior management team by seven.

He said: “Increasing demand for our services and shrinking budgets mean we cannot continue to operate with a traditional provider model; we must redefine our role and our relationship with the city. “We have developed a proposed senior management structure at strategic and service director level. “In doing so, we are taking the opportunity to create a smaller team who will work with partners on delivery of our priority outcomes.”

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.