Parmley to leave South Somerset

The Chief Executive of South Somerset District Council (SSDC) has announced he will be leaving. Just ahead of the reorganisation of the county into one or two unitary councils.

Mr Parmley has overseen turbulent times. A transformation programme at SSDC that ran into trouble. It ended up costing at least £1m in excess agency costs due to the disruption to staffing. Albeit the excess costs were not coded to Transformation. Which allowed the authority to claim its Transformation was on budget.

There followed a meltdown in the planning department with planning agents deeply unhappy. And finally the phosphate issue raising its head to disrupt planning.

On the plus side SSDC leant large numbers of its staff to support the COVID 19 vaccination programme. Run by the local NHS and using staff taken from all our councils, it has been a notable success.

Mr Parmley now leaves to take up the position of Chief Executive of Waitaki District Council, New Zealand. It will certainly be different to South Somerset. And as his wife is a New Zealander it is an obvious move.

We wish him well in the future.


  • Disastrous chief executive. Entirely typical that he should run, just as the going gets tough and when a steady hand would be of greatest value i.e. during the more significant transition to come. I don’t know Waitaki but I fear its not far enough.

    • Cannot begin to fathom what that comment is based on other than spite. He’s been fantastic to work for and the modernisation of the council under his leadership has been extraordinary. Not everything had gone right but an awful lot has. Completely understand why he wants to go for a new life in New Zealand and the improvement of the council will continue.

      • So what has ‘gone right’?

      • Sounds like someone has been sipping the Kool-Aid…

      • No spite I assure you. Just a planning department that has all but disappeared and story after story of bizarre decision making and poor performance. My only direct dealings with him were nothing short of comic.
        The night of the last General Election. I was the Labour candidate. He has given himself the job as returning officer. My son came as a late replacement for an unwell comrade, but the hapless Mr Parmley ruled my son could not be admitted for security reasons. It was at this moment of grumpy intransigence we both noticed the wife and much younger children of the Conservative candidate asking if they could come in. I said its fine with me but I would like my son to be admitted. He ruled against both. Then at 2:30 when the first count was completed one of the tallies was out and Mister Popular insisted on a recount. The Conservative candidate had won by a vote exceeding the total of the other three candidates combined. None of us asked for the recount, but he was willing to keep 80 or so counters up for another 3 hours because he didn’t want the trivial discrepancy against his name. It is now 5:30 in the morning, everyone including the poor Conservative candidate’s children, have lost the will to live and we are having to do the acceptance/concession speeches in the bar next to the counting hall because Captain Decisive is still refusing to allow super-numaries into the main room.
        Parmley by name, hopeless by nature.
        Good luck Waitaki!

    • ‘Disastrous’ CEO should stay because SSDC needs a ‘steady hand’. Methinks you’re a bit confused!

  • As a Kiwi I feel bound to warn my Canterbury mates that someone with such an appalling record is heading their way. I found it incredible that SSDC actually put him up for an award after presiding over a reorg at SSDC that not only saw the planning service decimated but also ended up increasing the salary bill.

  • Is he going voluntarily or was he pushed? SSDC has a long history of very expensive and disastrous chief executives – remember Phil Dolan’s £569k a few years ago?. The enormous costs of ‘transformation’ are a testament to incompetence of the LibDem Council and the Chief Executive, and matters are going from bad to worse with borrowed money poured into useless projects, (which have also necessitated a restatement of the Council’s accounts), and a planning department which is a continuing disaster area. The sooner we have a unitary authority, the better.

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