Council boss set to leave
It is just 10 days since we knew the out come to the elections for the new unitary Somerset Council. In the aftermath, the Somerset County Council Chief Executive emailed the staff with a rallying call. He told staff “I am looking forward to working with the new Leadership to deliver their ambitions for Somerset after their strong mandate.” Noting the change brought about by the elections he added: “For those of us who work closely with politicians this will be a substantial change. The councillors with whom senior managers work on daily basis will change and we will move from seeking to deliver a Conservative programme to delivering the new Liberal Democrat manifesto. This will lead to a new Council Plan being developed to set out the Council’s priorities.”
All positive stuff then. Though of course one thing to be decided by the new administration, was who would be the new Chief Executive. Mr Flaherty with 16 years experience at Somerset County Council would have had high hopes. As the Chief Executive of Somerset County Council he would have been a front runner.
But today he messaged staff to say he was off.
Mr Flaherty has accepted a job offer at Harrow Council. Of course that still needs to be ratified by the council at a full council meeting. However it seems the odds are heavily in favour of his being accepted. And presumably this has been in the offing for some time. These things do not usually happen in the course of a week.
Today Mr Flaherty notes: “I fully expected to be a candidate for Chief Executive of the new unitary but when I was approached by head-hunters for the Harrow post, I felt I had to give some thought to what more I wish to achieve in my career.” Apparently the opportunity in what he describes as a “multi-cultural London Borough” were too exciting to ignore.
Of course some might say the challenges of leading a brand new Somerset Council are also exciting. With new political leadership, a refresh on ideas, a massive merger to implement, the role could not be bigger. Or indeed more challenging. Whoever gets the role will need to be someone who is up for the job and up for the challenge. It is going to be one of the bigger jobs in local government after all.