Redbridge Council’s top brass overhaul could cost taxpayer £675,000

Leader of the Tories Cllr Paul Canal, left, and leader of the council Cllr Jas Athwal, right.

Leader of the Tories Cllr Paul Canal, left, and leader of the council Cllr Jas Athwal, right. - Credit: Archant

An overhaul of Redbridge Council’s top management team could leave it without any directors who have been there longer than a few months.

Redbridge Chief Executive Andy Donald

Redbridge Chief Executive Andy Donald - Credit: Archant

The plan to completely restructure the council’s senior management is estimated to cost at least £675,000 in the short term.

It could mean all those in the top positions will have joined the council in the past 12 months.

Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal said the overhaul was a more “holistic” approach, but opposition leader Cllr Paul Canal said the Conservatives were “deeply concerned” over the changes.

Spearheaded by chief executive Andy Donald, who started in January, the reorganisation will see the line-up of eight senior officers shrink to six corporate directors.

Several experienced staff are taking voluntary redundancy.

Director of environment, housing and community services Simon Barry will step down this week and borough solicitor Simon Goodwin is to leave in July.

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New finance chief Maria Christofi starts today (Thurs), after Geoff Pearce and his deputy Mark Green both retired in the past year.

It is unclear whether director of adult social services, health and wellbeing John Powell and director of children’s services Pat Reynolds will also leave the council.

A council spokeswoman said these roles were “currently being reviewed” and the council was “not in a position to comment at this stage”.

This could leave chief executive Mr Donald as the most experienced director.

The changes were passed at full council on March 17, with the report stating it would cost Redbridge £474,000 in severance packages and a further £200,000 in recruitment.

Cllr Athwal said: “The new structure is more corporate, and it is a more holistic council wide strategy. We have created new roles for civic pride and regeneration, as these are important tasks for this administration.”

The restructure is expected to take place over the next six months, but Cllr Athwal said some directors were taking early retirement before the autumn due to changes in redundancy law.

Commenting on the relative inexperience, Cllr Athwal said: “I’m always concerned about that with officers, but I think changes sometimes should be welcomed.”

The council spokeswoman added: “The restructure process will ensure that the changes within the organisation will be absorbed safely and sensibly.”

Cllr Canal said: “We reman deeply concerned at the speed, cost and implication of the structural reforms.”

He explained the Tories wanted “a more measured approach”.

“It’s likely that 100 per cent of senior officers will have gone in 12 months, if this was a large company you would call it a crisis.”