Council chief executive plans too ‘important’ to delay – says watchdog

Mark Cullinan.

Mark Cullinan.

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Lancaster City Council may run without a chief executive in future or share the role with another council.

A watchdog group within the council wants these options to be looked at when Mark Cullinan, current chief executive, steps down from the role next year.

The council’s overview and scrutiny committee, which analyses decisions made by the council and can make alternative recommendations, has ‘called in’ a decision by the city council cabinet.

The Labour-run cabinet wants to delay a decision on a restructure of the chief executive’s department until after Mr Cullinan’s replacement is appointed.

But the committee said that “amounts to avoiding making a choice on one of the most important issues facing the council in recent years”.

The call-in was made by Green city councillors Caroline Jackson and Dave Brookes, and Tories Peter Williamson, Roger Mace and Chris Leadbetter.

They asked for a report to determine whether the chief executive should be replaced, or shared with another local authority, or if the council should operate without one.

Eighty local authorities currently have a shared chief executive.

They said: “A decision on the need for recruiting a replacement is a pre-requisite for deciding upon reorganisation of the office of the chief executive.

“The wording of the cabinet’s resolution implies that a replacement chief executive is to be recruited, when no discussion has taken place on the need to recruit a replacement chief executive.”

The cabinet will now consider the committee’s request,

Mr Cullinan, who has been chief executive of Lancaster City Council since 2000, announced his decision to step down in June. He is due to retire next summer.