South Somerset Finance boss resigns

To lose one Finance Director may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness.

In this particular instance the carelessness was on the part of The Leveller® for which we apologise. Our original piece reported that two Finance Directors had resigned, one at South Somerset District Council (SSDC) and one at Mendip District Council (MDC).

Our piece was accurate in respect of SSDC. However the information we reported (which we had received from multiple sources) on MDC was incorrect. Richard Bates, S151 officer at Mendip District Council (MDC) has not resigned. It is true that Mr Bates was appointed on a temporary contract in July last year. He had remained in post beyond his initial 6 month term. He has since signed a new contract with MDC and remains their s151 officer. We apologise to both Mr Bates and MDC for the error on our part. And we wish Mr Bates every success in continuing his role.

In a statement to The Leveller® an MDC spokesperson noted: “Mendip District Council’s interim section 151 statutory finance officer has not resigned. The officer’s appointment was confirmed by Full Council back in July 2020 for an initial 6 month period. At the last Full Council in February 2021 the interim appointment was extended until end July 2021. Councils are required to appoint a section 151 officer under the Local Government Act 1972, to ensure the financial probity of the Council’s business.”

However the situation at SSDC is as reported. The s151 officer is a sort of Finance Director for a council. At SSDC the role was filled by Jo Nacy and she has indeed resigned. She had only been in post for a year. There was no press release regarding Ms Nacy’s resignation.

We have contacted the communications team at SSDC but have had no response.

6 comments

  • Mr Lee, your sensational headline makes this seem like a scandal, and recent. In SSDC’s case it is neither.

    • The sensationalist headline you complain of was “2 Somerset Finance bosses resign” It is not sensational, it is factual. Or at least it would have been factual had it been correct. It was however wrong. A much more serious charge to which we have pleased guilty and apologised. If Ms Nacy’s resignation is not recent, it would be interesting to know when it was, and why it wasn’t press released.

  • Vote with your feet

    Is this down to the One Somerset v Stronger Somerset unitary cases creating uncertainty etc?

    It would appear that some good Senior Officers in the District Councils appear to be voting with their feet in expectation that the One Somerset unitary will succeed.

    After the hiatus, your job may not exist or you may not like the outcome of who you work for (if certain County Council Directors are retained in charge).

    There will then be only One s151 Officer and not Five.

    Having seen the flawed business case from Stronger Somerset (with a shared service Southwest One-style and social care services shared too), I am inclined to agree with their conclusion that One Somerset is the only case that meets the published Government criteria.

    Somerset West and Taunton Council are shortly to lose their highly rated Head of Planning. How will they recruit good staff in these uncertain circumstances?

    It remain a truism that in uncertain times the good people get up and go and those with unspectacular qualities sit tight!

  • It was George H W Bush, Senior who said “follow the money”!

    Graham E Livings
    sometime, Chairman: Mendip District Council:- Administration & Finance Committee

  • Graham Pritchard

    It may not be a scandal, but since Clr Seib was appointed as finance portfolio holder he has lost 2 finance directors, in less than 2 years, why is that?
    Is the leadership at SSDC up to the job?

    • Graham, I haven’t lost them. I remain on very good terms with both and I’m very happy to have worked with them.

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