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Hertsmere Borough Council's chief executive role under threat

Hertsmere Borough Council's chief executive role under threat

The chief executive role at Hertsmere Borough Council could be lost.

Leader of the council, Cllr Morris Bright, has received advice from the local government association on a "more cost effective" model for the top management structure at the council, according to a report.

Hertsmere chief exec Donald Graham, who has been on sick leave since the end of June, is the highest paid council boss in Hertfordshire, bar county council boss Owen Mapley, earning £154,000 a year.

The council's cross-party personnel committee will meet tomorrow (Thursday) to discuss a recommendation to delete Donald Graham's role and revise the chief officer structure.

The council's head of HR met with Mr Graham on July 24 to discuss the restructuring of management, and she has since met with group leaders, corporate director Sajida Bilje, chairman of the personnel committee, Cllr Peter Rutledge, Mr Graham's PA, and HR portfolio holder, Cllr Pervez Choudhury.

Following the meetings, head of HR Judith Mears writes that a final proposal for a new structure is "not clear" and at least six more months of research is required.

Full council will meet on September 18 to discuss the removal of the chief executive's role in Hertsmere, if recommendations are agreed by the committee tomorrow.

Mr Graham has been away from the council offices since the end of June after being signed off on sick leave.

His temporary departure coincided with an audit report, which was commissioned by Mr Graham, being leaked on or around June 26.

The internal audit report, focusing on the governance of council-owned companies in the borough, concluded there was a "weakness in controls" at council-owned Elstree Studios.

Read more: Leaked report reveals 'weakness in controls' at Elstree Studios

An FOI request in April showed Cllr Bright, who is chairman of the studios, and his Conservative party had to pay back the studios thousands of pounds due to wrongly claimed expenses - however Cllr Bright and colleague Cllr Paul Morris, who is mentioned in the report, have pointed to a number of "inaccuracies" within the report.

At 6pm today, (Wednesday), the full council will meet at the civic centre in Borehamwood for an extraordinary council meeting following a requisition by members of the opposition.

There are set to be fireworks as Cllr Bright and Labour leader Cllr Jeremy Newmark go head-to-head to debate the internal report and the recommendations that were made within it.

The meeting will be broadcast on Hertsmere Borough Council's website here, and is also open to the public to attend.

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