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East Devon should get new CEO

Thursday, 18 April 2024 14:14

By Bradley Gerrard, local democracy reporter

East Devon District Council van (image courtesy: EDDC)

Local Government Association recommends new boss

East Devon should progress with its plans to recruit a new chief executive to help it achieve its ambitions, an external review has stated.

The Local Government Association undertook a ‘peer review’ of East Devon District Council, and suggested hiring a new boss as its first recommendation out of nine.

At present, three council directors – Simon Davey, Melanie Wellman and Tracy Hendren – are joint interim chief executives, a move implemented after Mark Williams retired last October after 21 years in the role.

The LGA report said the trio were responsible “in no small part” for the sense of stability at the council.

“However, capacity at that senior level is limited at the moment and a permanent chief executive is needed to provide vision and direction to the staff, and support the leader and members with a strategic perspective,” the report said.

The LGA praised East Devon’s “collaborative” approach, and noted that there was a positive relationship between councillors and officers, “which was not always the case”.

Beyond its suggestion about recruiting a chief executive, the LGA made other recommendations including investing in the development of councillors and officers, streamlining the actions in its new council plan, and suggesting it improve engagement with housing tenants as well as improve the service’s performance.

It also urged the council to “resist the temptation to undertake further external reviews”, and instead focus on consolidating the learning and recommendations from the reviews it has undertaken so far.

The LGA noted that the council has 4,300 tenanted properties, and there are “challenges with the housing service”.

“Whilst a great del of work has been undertaken to address the issues arising from staff capacity, stock condition, complaints and repair requests, more needs to be done to improve tenant engagement, contract management and performance in dealing with repairs.”

Mr Davey, one of the interim chief executives, told a council meeting this week that the LGA report was “positive” and that councillors would be updated about progress on the recommendations in the coming months.

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