Political Promise

Where do you get the time?

In David Brownsey-Joyce on September 20, 2010 at 2:20 pm

Moira Gibb has announced she is taking over as Chief Executive of both Camden and Islington councils. By David Brownsey-Joyce.

Let’s be honest when you get a get a top job you can expect to be working long hours, especially when you work in an environment that serves hundreds of thousands of people on a day-to-day basis, so I was wondering, how Moira Gibb is going to manage both Camden and Islington councils next year?

News of Islington and Camden Councils plans to share a chief executive when John Foster retires in May 2011 raised a number of questions in my mind as I relaxed after what I thought was a busy working week. I was wondering how someone could successfully manage two large London boroughs. My answer was obvious, she simply won’t sleep.

I got to this answer after considering my own working week, personally I work in the private sector and like many others I have had to accept that there is going to be a heavier workload and longer hours, as companies streamline their practices.

My counterparts in the public sector are probably suffering worse as they face recruitment freezes and the prospect of future cuts between 25% and 40% to come following the Comprehensive Spending Review on the 20th October. Not to mention a simple truth, the public sector cannot grow its way out of trouble whilst the private sector can.

Some people thrive in these environments, taking on extra responsibilities and shining as they step up to take on the challenges left by others who have left. Others crumble under the strain, the mental effort increasing levels of staff illness as they just can’t keep up with the workload. I wonder what will happen in my borough when Moira takes on the workload of two chief executives.

I expect that she will surround herself with a great support team that will shoulder a lot of the burden but at the end of the day it is going to fall to her to carry the weight of two London boroughs. Luckily she doesn’t have to worry about the politics of the two boroughs pulling away from each other, currently both Camden and Islington are Labour controlled; however it would only take one of them to fall to a rival or have no overall controlling party to throw a spanner in the works.

What I do know is that a lot of councils and politicians will be watching Camden and Islington very closely next year to see how this experiment goes, it wouldn’t be the first case of a shared chief executive but it would be the biggest, to see whether someone could carry it off and make it a success will be viewed as a possibility to all if it works, if it doesn’t I expect a hearty chorus of ‘I told you so’ to be sung by those chief executives who pull away from the idea.

If anyone can pull it off its Moira Gibb but she should be grateful she isn’t chief executive of Fulham & Hammersmith Council as their Leader Stephen Greenhalgh (Con) recently said that he expects Fulham & Hammersmith to be sharing a chief executive with Westminster City Council and Kensington & Chelsea Royal Borough Council, as more of their services are shared between the three councils.

Two seems a challenge, three seems suicide, just think of the amount of dinners that you would have to go to, you would never get a home cooked meal again, let alone sleep.

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