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.


  • He has seen how SSDC led by the Libdems make life very problematic for any civil servant, so a wise move on his part!!
    Good luck to him.

    • Anthony Sutcliffe

      As was indicated in the article, these positions are not filled overnight. So I doubt Mr Flaherty’s decision was decided by the result of the recent election, as he would have applied months before it was even called.

      I also think it much more likely that the behaviour of the SCC administration in forcing through an unwanted merger might have a bit more to do with Mr Flaherty’s choice.

    • Graham think you will agree, parish councils have a great opportunity.
      To take the lead with the Unitary Authority, since next year
      Parish Councils will be the main contact to the Unitary Authority

  • “Cometh the hour, cometh the man or woman”!

    Fear not the ‘cleansing’ the Augean-stables; the test the ‘legacy’ of a once ‘historic’ Shire-County, coterminous with Diocese of Bath and Wells, truncated on the ‘altar’ of Whitehall! Shenanigans ‘aside’ an ‘act of ‘good-intent’ the restoration in the first ‘quadrennial’ the pre 1974 ‘boundary’ an agenda-item’ the ‘inaugural’ meeting having ‘served’ with ‘honour’ post WW1 and WW2!


  • Has anyone considered approaching the enormously popular Alex Parmley about the role? Apart from a little local difficulty towards the end his tenure at South Somerset District Council is widely associated with a period of hugely successful development and improvement. If the new SSC wants to be as successful as the old SSDC, Alex would be the man to go for…

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