Which 7 councillors will recommend Wirral Council’s new Chief Executive?

Which 7 councillors will recommend Wirral Council’s new Chief Executive?

Who will choose Wirral Council’s new Chief Executive?


One of the bigger stories on this blog recently has been the news that the current Chief Executive for Wirral Council Graham Burgess has handed in his notice and will retire at the end of the year.

So as Wirral Council has the Chief Executive’s three-month notice period (30th September 2014 to 31st December 2014) to find his replacement, what’s happened so far?

Well because the Chief Executive is a political appointment of councillors, the politicians have to decide. So a meeting of the Employment and Appointments Committee has been set up for the 27th October 2014. Graham Burgess is also currently Returning Officer (many people reading this may also know what a Returning Officer is but in simple terms it’s the head person at Wirral Council for elections), Electoral Registration Officer (another role to do with elections) and Head of Paid Service.

So what’s the timetable for picking a new Chief Executive and will one be in post by 1st January 2014? According to the draft timetable it won’t so temporary appointments will have to be made! The proposed timetable means the job advertisement will be advertised around the start of December 2014, which will give people until nearly a week after Graham Burgess leaves to apply for his job.

It is proposed that Penna PLC be paid about £15,000 for helping find a new Chief Executive and a further about £15,000 for finding a new Head of Specialist Services (who is also leaving in December 2014).

However paying out about £15k to Penna PLC to aid Wirral Council’s Human Resources department is not enough! No a “professional adviser” from the Local Government Association will also be advising the Appointments Panel.

This in fact has always struck me as a bit of an anomaly. Penna PLC and the LGA aren’t officers or councillors at Wirral Council. In the past though, they’ve remained in the meeting room after the press and public were excluded from the public meeting.

So who is the Appointments Panel going to be and what will it do? It will consist of seven councillors who will make a recommendation for the post of Chief Executive to the sixty-six councillors. It will probably be four Labour councillors, two Conservative councillors and one Lib Dem councillor. I have some guesses now below about who will make up this appointment panel for the Chief Executive. It hasn’t yet been decided yet which councillors will be on it, but below are my names along with my reasons:

Labour (4 councillors)
Cllr Adrian Jones * reason is already Chair of Employment and Appointments Committee
Cllr Phil Davies * reason is already Vice-Chair of Employment and Appointments Committee & Leader of the Council
Cllr George Davies * reason is Deputy Leader of Wirral Council, Cabinet Member and Labour councillor on Employment and Appointments Committee
Cllr Ann McLachlan * reason is Deputy Leader of Wirral Council, Cabinet Member and Labour councillor on Employment and Appointments Committee

* Note although Cllr Moira McLaughlin is a possibility, she’s unlikely for the reasons listed above

Conservative (2 councillors)
Cllr Jeff Green * reason there are only 2 Conservative councillors (apart from deputies) on Employment and Appointments Committee
Cllr Lesley Rennie * reason there are only 2 Conservative councillors (apart from deputies) on Employment and Appointments Committee

Lib Dem (1 councillor)
Cllr Phil Gilchrist * reason only Lib Dem (apart from deputies) on Employment and Appointments Committee

The seven councillors on the Appointments Panel will all be from the Employment and Appointments Committee and due to the high-profile nature of the appointment unlikely to be deputies. The Employment and Appointments Committee has eight councillors on it (plus twenty-one deputies). So the seven will come from those twenty-nine.

The Appointments Panel doesn’t actually choose the Chief Executive though. They just recommend who the Chief Executive should be to a meeting of all sixty-six councillors at Wirral Council.

From a practical perspective though, as Labour have a majority of councillors on the Appointments Panel and Wirral Council it will be down to the Labour councillors to decide who the next Chief Executive/Returning Officer/Electoral Registration Officer/Head of Paid Service is. As the process will probably be going on after Graham Burgess leaves and it’s a legal requirement to have somebody appointed to some of these roles, temporary people will have to be found before a permanent appointment is made.

Looking back to July 2012 when Graham Burgess was appointed as Chief Executive by Council, he then had to serve his period of notice before starting in post in September 2012.

If the new Chief Executive has to also serve out a period of notice, it could be as late as May 2015 before he or she starts (which if it is after General Election and local elections it will make the election side of their job easier).

So here’s the proposed job description & person specification for the Chief Executive/Head of Paid Service/Returning Officer/Electoral Registration Officer.

Certainly it will be interesting to see who the politicians eventually recommend for this key post at Wirral Council! If anyone wishes to leave a comment comparing the appointment of Wirral Council’s Chief Executive to the complicated process of appointing a Doge of Venice, feel free.

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Author: John Brace

New media journalist from Birkenhead, England who writes about Wirral Council. Published and promoted by John Brace, 134 Boundary Road, Bidston, CH43 7PH. Printed by UK Webhosting Ltd t/a Tsohost, 113-114 Buckingham Avenue, Slough, Berkshire, England, SL1 4PF.

12 thoughts on “Which 7 councillors will recommend Wirral Council’s new Chief Executive?”

  1. Back in June 2012, before Burgess arrived, his oppo Phil Davies said this:

    “Obviously, given where we are at the moment we would stand a better chance of getting a top flight person further down the line. Our reputation is not brilliant and if we went out to the market now, would we get a top notch person? I doubt it.

    “But if we get to where we want to be then we will stand a much better chance of getting a really good person for the job.”

    And he said the person appointed would also be tasked with “helping to appoint a permanent successor.”

    Burgess certainly DID task himself with appointing a permanent ‘successor’….


    But two and a bit years was not exactly permanent. It looks like Phil Davies was right. Burgess didn’t come up to scratch…

    “…would we get a top notch person? I doubt it.”


    1. That was 2012, personally as it’s a public meeting that will consider the applicants, I’m saddened that councillors will probably choose recommended by officers to exclude the press and public from the discussion.

      In the States applicants for political appointments are grilled in public in front of the cameras, press and public which I think is more open and transparent…

  2. I’m free for £300.00 a week and i don’t think i could be any worse than the last guy, with cuts here! cuts there! no body has come out with how Wirral could make money!

    1. The salary grade is about £2.6k a week.

      However it’s not up to the Chief Executive to agree a budget, that function is done by politicians who are advised by officers.

  3. G’day John

    Long time no talk.

    You know your way around “The Garbage Tip” in Brighton Street, the one half full of crap. The senior half.

    If I remember correctly Graham Burge (r with the lot plus super duper car and 7 mistakes http://goo.gl/znBccO in 29 seconds)ss’ was sniffing around “Phil the Dill” “The Dunny Chain Wearer” and the rest of the gang long before he got his temp job. Before he evolved.

    Is there anyone smooshing around “Boystown” at the moment they are preparing to slot in?

    Just a thought.



    Ps Only 1,203 days since I blew the whistle on Big, ISUS and Working Neighbourhoods, yes, 3 years, 3 months and 15 days to “The Football Shirt” and “The Chamber Potty” who was told to keep her gob shut.

    1. I get told to “keep my gob shut” about lots of things and had an interrsting run in with the Chief Executive on my way out of the Council Chamber.

      He basically accused me of espionage and of goong through private papers. This is probably because I had a piece of A4 in my hand with an amendment on it, that a committee services officer had given me during the adjournment.

      The Chief Executive said it was a “private meeting”, so I pointed out to him the meeting (which was a public one) was adjourned (in fact he’d been sitting next to the Mayor who had adjourned it).

      Maybe the Chief Executive was just tired because he doesn’t seem to really know how to react to a person standing up to him!

      1. G’day John

        Just don’t talk about the Little Cherub, Graham Burge (r with the lot plus super duper car and 7 mistakes http://goo.gl/znBccO in 29 seconds)ss’, he doesn’t like it.



        Ps Hasn’t “The Dunny Chain Wearer” imploded yet?


        1. I’ve had a long night and got a bit cheesed of by the CHEX’s attitude.

          But then I suppose he’s nicer than some politicians are, but after giving in his notice there is certainly a change in Mr. Burgess which is hard to describe in words.

  4. Also, the senior management restructure is placed on hold pending appointment of a new Chief Exec and the terms of reference for the panel includes setting a new Payline for the new appointment.

    1. Yes but all appointmemts consider salary and job description, that’s just standard. Can’t do a senior management restructure without knowing who and what the existing one looks like first.

      The CHEX is not the only appointmemt they have to make as a manger in the CYP dept in going too.

    1. Well he came across as a bit cross that I was there. Ironically I wouldn’t have been still there in the Council Chamber during the adjournment, had he not stood in my way talking to me. sighs

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