Jobs warning from councils’ new chief

Ian Gallin, new chief executive for St Eds and Forest Heath.
Ian Gallin, new chief executive for St Eds and Forest Heath.

THE new joint chief executive of St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council has warned that there will ‘inevitably’ be job cuts at the two authorities.

In his first week in the role, Ian Gallin admitted there would be some compulsory redundancies, although it was too early to say how many.

The 42-year-old said: “The reality is that staff costs are a big part of the council’s budget. There will be some job losses.”

However, he stressed that development and growth is high up on the agenda.

Mr Gallin said: “My background has been in really trying to secure inward investment.”

He noted that it was about creating ‘the right environment for businesses to thrive’ and showing that ‘we’re open for business, that we deal with planning applications in the right way and understand what business wants’.

These are just some of the challenges the father-of-one faces.

The two authorities agreed to join forces under a shared management structure last year and it is Mr Gallin’s job to help thread these separate entities together.

He explained: “It’s about bringing the councils more closely together to protect the delivery of frontline services.

“There’s a lot of work that’s been done already. Over the next few months we will be continuing that work and coming up with future plans for bringing services together and joining up policies and procedures so we are taking the best bits from both.”

The needs of customers will be at the forefront of that redesign to ensure the service they receive is ‘right the first time’ – a goal which, of course, saves money.

Savings are a key driver behind the move towards shared services and management – with an estimated £1.1 million pocketed over the next two years.

As a new dawn beckons for the authories though, a shadow of uncertainty will be cast over some jobs.

Mr Gallin said that there would ‘inevitably be some compulsory redundancies’. In some circumstances, the councils will not be recruiting for vacant posts. How does he intend to keep up staff morale?

“It’s the simple stuff done well. It’s communicating and telling people what’s going to happen.”

To fulfill his £105,000 role, he has a wealth of skills to fall back on, with a career that started in finance, economic development, corporate policy and strategy as well as senior management roles.

For more than two years, Mr Gallin was assistant chief executive at Plymouth City Council ‘dealing with much of the same agenda about how you transform a council’.

The ‘more relevant experience’ was 10 years previously at a district council in Wiltshire working through reorganisation while maintaining service delivery as well focusing on the changing face of employment.

He says: “In terms of the vibrancy and future success of towns I’ve never pulled it off on my own. You need a partnership – the traders, the chamber of commerce and the other town councils to work together because we’ve all got a bit to play.”

The next step is proposing a new senior management structure.

Mr Gallin says: “I need to make sure that’s fit for purpose so we’ve got the right skills and capacity in house to move forward with our priorities.”

He added: “Change needs to happen. The councils have recognised that and it’s my job to deliver that.”