Terry Parkin is expected to leave Brighton and Hove City Council in the coming few months – the third of the four strategic directors to go.
Mr Parkin, the strategic director of people, is believed to be joining a London borough in a similar role in the autumn although his appointment has not yet been ratified.
His departure is likely to follow that of council chief executive John Barradell and strategic director of resources Charlie Stewart.
David Murray, the strategic director of communities, was also expected to leave in the autumn although no date has been publicly announced.
The appointment of Mr Parkin, Mr Murray and Mr Stewart was announced two years ago – in July 2010 – along with that of Geoff Raw, strategic director of place.
They were brought in as part of a shake up of the senior management team at the council under the leadership of Councillor Mary Mears and her Conservative administration.
The Green Party opposed their appointment, which was supported by Labour as well as the Conservatives.
Before winning the local elections in May last year and in their “alternative budget” the Greens said that they would “eliminate” their posts.
During the budget debate in March last year Councillor Jason Kitcat, who was then the Green group’s finance spokesman and is now its leader, said: “However skilled these strategic directors are, they’re an expensive layer of management that the council simply cannot afford.”
On taking office, however, Councillor Bill Randall agreed to work as leader of the council with the set up that he inherited rather than have another costly upheaval.
When the Greens outlined their first budget before Christmas, though, they said that the cuts would mean that one of the four would have to go.
In the event three of the four are off along with their boss. Only Mr Raw remains in the most senior tier of management alongside Catherine Vaughan, the finance director.
Last week councillors agreed that she should become interim chief executive when Mr Barradell leaves in early September.
Officials today (Wednesday 25 July) declined to say which London borough Mr Parkin was expected to join although four out of the 32 have vacant posts for the equivalent of his role.
He is the senior officer for education, children’s services and health in Brighton and Hove, having started his career as a science teacher with a degree in microbiology.
He was credited with raising standards in primary schools as the borough was listed in the top ten most improved in the country.
Staff there said that his mantras included “poverty is no excuse” and “good enough is not good enough”.
In Brighton and Hove he has also focused on trying to raise standards, particularly in the city’s secondary schools, where there is growing confidence about this summer’s exam results.
The city’s primary schools have also just reported their best key stage 2 results among 11-year-olds.
Mr Parkin recently said how pleased he was that the number of child protection cases being managed by the council was going down.
And he took some pride in the inclusion of a Youth Council member on the city’s newly created Health and Wellbeing Board, which was set up as part of the NHS reforms.
There has been criticism of the £125,000 salaries paid to the four strategic directors but at least two of the city’s state school head teachers earn more.
And one official said that while there had sniping in the city about the four directors and Mr Barradell, they didn’t appear to be having trouble finding better paid jobs – even in a recession.
The official said that the departure of four out of the six most senior executives in such quick succession would not help Brighton and Hove’s aspirations to become a world class city.
It could be taken as an indication that the council had not been clear about what it expected of its top management.
Another said that the continuing debate about the appointment and future of the strategic directors had become personal and had proved unsettling beyond the four individuals concerned.
The insider said: “I hope this episode does not deter good candidates from applying for key positions in Brighton and Hove.
“The city needs a senior team able to combine strategic direction with the ability to stay on top of the detail as they manage vital services with fewer staff and tighter budgets.
“The coming months will provide a real test of the political leadership and of all those active in local politics who genuinely care for the future of Brighton and Hove.”
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