WIRRAL council has given its temporary chief executive a permanent contract – despite objections from opposition parties.
Councillors meeting at Wallasey town hall on Monday night voted in favour of appointing Graham Burgess to the job just four months after he arrived on a temporary basis.
The move was strongly supported by councillors from the ruling Labour group, but Tories and most Lib Dems said they believed the decision was being taken too soon.
Labour leader Phil Davies said the council needed “certainty” as it approached difficult decisions including major budget cuts and hundreds of proposed redundancies.
Cllr Davies said: “I think it is incredibly important to send a strong message to our staff and the outside world that we have stability at the top of our officer corps, someone here for the long term.”
He said Mr Burgess was an “outstanding public servant” who had already set the authority on the right track to improvement, as well as helping Wirral “punch our weight in the Liverpool region”.
But Tory leader Jeff Green he was surprised by the decision, saying Mr Burgess’s contract already provided certainty for the next two years.
Although he praised the chief executive he said it was “incredibly disappointing” and he could not understand the urgency at a time when the council was facing making so many employees redundant.
Lib Dem leader Tom Harney also praised Mr Burgess but questioned the timing of this decision.
However Lib Dem Cllr Mark Johnston said he supported the move.
Following the vote to appoint him, Mr Burgess pledged to “serve all parties on the council, as you would expect me to”.