It is nearly 6 months since the Chief Executive of the City of York Council went on sick leave. The problem arose shortly after the May local elections and left the largely inexperienced new Council with inadequate senior management capacity.
The result was that there was a lack of direction during the summer period with the standard of several public services noticeably falling.
The Council drifted into several decisions, including a £20 million Guildhall redevelopment contract, without the rigorous reappraisal that a new administration, acting with the advantage of experienced advisors, might have chosen to approach differently.
The Council must now consider whether to continue with a temporary Chief Executive – a senior officer “acting up” – or whether to move to something more permanent.
Long service Chief officers in local government are entitled to 6 months sick leave on full pay followed by 6 months on half pay. So potentially if the Chief Executive continues to be absent there will be funding available in the budget to cover any backfill.
Not an easy decision and the health of employees must always be a paramount consideration.
But York taxpayers will now expect to see a roadmap published which shows a way back to having a full management team in place in the City.
There are simply too many decisions coming along (including the completion of the Community Stadium, the Guildhall, York Central, York Bypass improvements etc.) to allow a continued policy drift.