The chief executive of Peterborough City Council has moved a step closer to a job share with Cambridgeshire County Council.
City councillors on the authority’s employment committee last night (Thursday, September 19) unanimously recommended the temporary job share which would see Gillian Beasley perform the same role at both councils for 12 months.
The decision will now move on to the full councils of both authorities in the middle of next month for approval.
Concerns were raised over the potential job share, which will see the councils split Ms Beasley’s £170,000 salary and additional costs, saving the city council £110,000.
But city council leader Councillor John Holdich and his deputy Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald moved to calm fears that Ms Beasley would be burnt out or that Peterborough would once again amalgamate with the county council into one authority as it had done in the past.
Cllr Fitzgerald said: “We consider it quite flattering that Cambridgeshire County Council approached us and our chief executive who comes in for a lot of criticism unfairly.
“The support structure is in place and she will not be neglecting her duties here.”
Cllr Fitzgerald called Ms Beasley a “credit to the council”, adding that others would be pushing for more money if they had agreed to a job share.
He also said there will be benefits for Peterborough with Ms Beasley able to co-ordinate greater collaboration between the council’s transportation and public health portfolios.
Cllrs Lisa Forbes, Nick Sandford and Nazim Khan all raised concerns about Peterborough becoming part of the same authority as the county council in the future.
Cllr Sandford said he had heard there were plans to split the county council into two or three authorities with one of them including Peterborough.
Cllr Holdich, though, dismissed the suggestion. He said: “There is absolutely no truth in a combined authority with Cambridgeshire County Council. It’s never been discussed.”
The council leader added that Peterborough is “moving north not south” in reference to greater collaboration with councils in Lincolnshire.
And he said that on the days Ms Beasley works at the county council she will come to Peterborough in the morning and evening after travelling by train.
Under the proposed arrangement, senior management in Peterborough will take on extra work unpaid while the county council will hire a deputy to assist Ms Beasley.
Cllr Sandford asked why the county council was not paying more than half of Ms Beasley’s salary as it was a bigger authority, while Ms Forbes sought assurance that she would continue to meet members face-to-face.
Ms Forbes added: “I’m quite protective of Gillian because I think she is a fantastic chief executive.
“I think it’s a little bit sad that we are going to share her but I think it’s the right thing to do.
“My concern is about the management of Gillian’s time and that she has time to herself to live her life.”
Cllr Holdich responded by saying: “I think we have got it right but we will not know until we try it.”
Cllr Fitgerald added that Ms Beasley felt the job share would benefit Peterborough, but Cllr Khan quipped: “You’re living in a dream world if you think you’re to get anything out of Cambridgeshire County Council.”
The county council’s equivalent of the Employment Committee has already recommended the job share.
The partnership would include a break-off clause after six months.
MORE: £170k Peterborough City Council chief in line for second job (http://www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk/news/politics/politics-news/updated-170k-peterborough-city-council-chief-in-line-for-second-job-1-6939012)