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Chief executive's appointment splits Wirral Council
WIRRAL Council's chief executive has been given a permanent role at the local authority.
Graham Burgess was appointed last night as the borough’s head of paid service - but the move did not please all political parties.
At a meeting of the full council, the ruling Labour group gave their backing to Mr Burgess, but Tories and the majority of Lib Dems voted against the decision, saying it was being made “too soon”.
The chief executive was taken on under a fixed term two-year agreement last year. Council leader Cllr Phil Davies said it was essential to make his role permanent to ensure council stability.
Councillor Davies said: “I believe it is important to make this change now and I think it’s incredibly important to send a strong message to our staff and the outside world that we have stability at the top of office.
“Graham went through a competitive process last year for a two year contract but I do believe that it’s important to secure his service for the long term and I know that he is happy to support that.”
However Conservative group leader Cllr Jeff Green said the appointment would not be supported by his side at a time when the council was facing a major funding crisis and service cuts.
He said: “I think he [Mr Burgess] is doing a good job and demonstrating many of the qualities I hoped he would when he was brought in.
"What I really don’t understand is the sudden urgency to do this now - he has only completed three to four months of his two years.
“At a time when we are asking a whole range of staff to reapply for their jobs, and when the chances are we will have to make a whole range of redundancies, I think it’s wrong we should rush into this and seek to appoint Graham at this time.”
Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Tom Harney also expressed his support for Mr Burgess’ work, but argued the matter of appointing him permanently was “too early.”
He said: “We thoroughly support Graham Burgess and the work he has done and the direction the council is going.
“But what has changed all of a sudden? I think it would be useful for all of us and the public to know.”
Councillor Davies replied he was responding to comments from staff about Mr Burgess’ temporary role and said he was showing leadership by moving to secure a permanent position.
Accepting his appointment, Mr Burgess - placed on permanent contract by 36 votes to 26 - said: “Thank-you very much for this appointment.
"I will serve all parties on the council, as you would expect me to.”