Headlines: March 29th, 1999

Proposals for reform of local government structures have been published in
the draft Bill ‘Local Leadership, Local Choice’. The Bill contains a
framework with three options for restructuring councils with provision for
local people to say what shape they wish their council to take. The three
models are: directly elected mayor with a cabinet; a cabinet with a leader
and a directly elected mayor with a council manager.

The Bill retains the role of chief executive as head of paid services, but
there would be a shift of power towards the political leadership. This
could have widespread implications for chief executives and those aspiring
to the posts as far as job satisfaction and career prospects are concerned.
To some extent the shift of power to politicians is counterbalanced by the
proposal for greater delegation to officers.

The appointment system would also be affected by the proposals. The Chief
Executive and the Council would need to be content with the appointment of
chief officers in most cases, but where there is a council manager, he or
she might be responsible for making appointments.

The Bill is unlikely to feature in the current legislative programme.