The search for a new chief executive for Europe’s largest local authority has commenced.
A restructure of Birmingham City Council’s senior management was announced last month after current chief executive, Stephen Hughes, confirmed his plans to retire at the end of February.
The new chief executive will also become director of economy, supported by a deputy and leading a new ‘Economy Directorate’.
Mr Hughes, who was paid a basic £205,000 per year for the role, will relinquish his position when he turns 60 in the New Year.
The hunt for the authority’s most senior employee will begin with advertisements in the local government Press and specialist publications.
Birmingham City Council leader, Sir Albert Bore, said: “It is not often that the opportunity to shape the lives of one million people arises, in perhaps the youngest and most culturally diverse city in Europe. We believe in a successful and inclusive city in which everyone has a fair chance and many more can play their part, and we want the very best candidate to help us achieve that.
“We want to spread our reputation as an entrepreneurial city and a regional powerhouse and we need a key advocate to promote Birmingham as a place in which people want to live, work, visit and invest.
“This is without doubt a unique and exciting opportunity, but the role will not be without its challenges. These include the radical reshaping of the services we deliver to the people of Birmingham, while protecting those most in need, in response to the severe funding reductions imposed on us by central Government.”
A new ‘People Directorate’ will combine the existing Adults and Communities Directorate and the Children, Young People and Families Directorate. Peter Hay, has been acting strategic director for the joint service and, subject to ratification of the new structure, will be appointed permanently.
The changes, confirmed after a 30-day consultation, reduce the number of directorates from five to three, and the senior officers’ pay bill by about £500,000.
Sir Albert added: “There has been an urgent need to stabilise the management arrangements around children’s safeguarding, which have been inadequate for too long, and Peter Hay will provide the strong, focussed leadership required to win respect from staff and confidence from stakeholders.”
And the existing Local Services Directorate will be renamed ‘Place Directorate’ and, subject to ratification of the new structure, will be headed-up by the existing strategic director, Sharon Lea.
Mr Hughes, whose pay package totalled £233,000 with bonuses and pension last year, said when he announced his decision: “I have been planning my retirement for a little while, driven primarily by personal circumstances.
“I have had a fantastic time working for the city and will continue to work through until my final budget is finished.”
Asked what he was most proud of during his tenure, Mr Hughes said the business transformation process, which had seen the council undergo a major restructure, was “cutting edge in town hall circles”.
He said he was also pleased with the business support service Finance Birmingham, which had helped create 1,400 jobs for local firms.
Mr Hughes added that the runway extension at Birmingham Airport “ought to be named the Stephen Hughes runway” because “it wouldn’t have happened without me”.