WIRRAL council is preparing to offer its temporary new chief executive the job on a permanent basis – just four months into his contract.
Graham Burgess was brought in the “clean up” the crisis-stricken authority in the wake of a series of damning reports and as it faced “unprecedented” financial difficulties.
The former chief executive of Blackburn with Darwen council was praised as one of the most significant figures in local government.
Since he was appointed he has set out radical plans for major budget cuts as well as sweeping changes to the management structure of the authority.
A report to Wirral council’s ruling cabinet, which meets next Thursday recommends making Mr Burgess’s appointment permanent.
The report, by the head of the council’s human resources department Chris Hyams, said plans are now in place to improve the authority but “come with high risk” and a permanent appointment will help reduce that risk.
It also said: “The council requires stability and leadership at senior management level over a longer period of time which will allow the focus to remain on addressing the financial challenge facing the organisation while delivering the essential improvements required to the council’s corporate governance.”
Shortly after taking his post Mr Burgess had indicated he would consider staying at Wirral council for longer than his two year contract.
Council leader Phil Davies said Mr Burgess had done “an excellent job” so far and added: “What I’m keen to do is get rid of any uncertainty about whether he will be here for the long haul.
“I think it’s a move which will hopefully send out a clear message to our staff and the public that we have got someone doing a good job who is prepared to commit himself long term to Wirral – this is not just a guy going to come in, make a load of cuts, and then go away.”
Cllr Davies insisted there is “a strong business case” for making Mr Burgess’s appointment permanent and said: “He is someone who is well regarded by the Local Government Association and other local authorities and I was keen to tie him to Wirral for more than two years.”
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