Peterborough City Council to begin search for new chief executive after retirement of Gillian Beasley

Peterborough City and Cambridgeshire County Council will begin the search for a new chief executive following the retirement of Gillian Beasley.

By Stephen Briggs
Friday, 13th August 2021, 1:08 pm
Gillian Beasley EMN-210705-175902009

Ms Beasley announced plans to retire from a role leading both authorities earlier this year – and at the point of her retirement the 2016 sharing agreement automatically comes to an end. This being the case the Leaders of both councils have been carefully considering the complex challenges faced by the two different authorities.

These challenges include recovery of services, supporting the recovery of the local economy, continued response to COVID-19, support to the vaccination programme, and the significant financial pressure on each council’s budgets

Their considerations have also been informed by both councils’ recent LGA Peer Challenges – set to be published next month – which has highlighted that post pandemic the Chief Executive role may be too complex to be shared.

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Ms Beasley’s current salary of £173,596 is on the Peterborough salary scale which she agreed she would continue when both councils decided to share the role. It is split 50/50 between the two authorities. She has taken no pay inflation uplifts since 2017.

In the paper to Cambridgeshire’s Staffing and Appeals committee on August 24th and Peterborough’s Employment Committee on August 26th - both due to be published next Monday – Members will be asked to consider and recommend a process to appoint their own chief executive. If agreed this could see advertisements out from late August/early September. Interviews could then be held in October before appointments go to both Full Council meetings for ratification. The salary scale for the Cambridgeshire County Council role is £192,264 - £213,225 and for the Peterborough City Council role £166,846 - £203,923*.

The Leaders are also still considering the future of other shared roles and arrangements and these will be subject to more detailed discussion over the coming months. Where these services are clearly helping to deliver strong outcomes for residents and Communities, or resilience for the councils, shared services will continue to be an option.

Leader of Peterborough City Council, cllr Wayne Fitzgerald said: “The immediate challenges for Peterborough post pandemic are to secure our financial position to enable our ambitious and forward-thinking programme of recovery which will improve health and economic outcomes for our residents.

“At the time we agreed the shared chief executive role with Cambridgeshire County Council it was entirely the right thing to do and has delivered immense benefits, but the world has changed, and we need to change with it.”

Cllr Lucy Nethsingha, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council said: “As a new joint administration, we have a clear vision for the future of Cambridgeshire, as set out in our Joint agreement, and we do not underestimate the scale of the task that faces us.

“We need to tackle the looming challenge of climate change, drive out inequalities in parts of our county that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, and develop a closer working relationship with our communities, and our district, health and combined authority partners. Gillian has done a brilliant job to get us to this point and now we need a dedicated successor to her to continue this work.”

Cambridgeshire County Council deputy leader Cllr Elisa Meschini added: “To meet our ambitions, we need to ensure a strong economic base, keeping a firm hand on our council finances and lobbying hard to make sure Cambridgeshire receives what it is due from Government. This is a big task, and we need a Chief Executive who can be totally focussed on it.”

Cambriddgeshire County Council employs a total of 4,300 staff and has a gross annual budget of £729m, while Peterborough City Council employs a total of 1,299 staff (1,128 FTE) and has a gross annual budget of £423m.