LETTER: ‘Exodus’ fears with council

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DOES West Sussex County Council have a Plan B or Plan C to replace the axed CEO?

At the start of 2014, Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council, axed the position of the county’s chief executive, which led to the prompt departure of Kieran Stigant.

We were told his work would be shared between a chief operating officer and an interim transformation director, but seven months later, these plans remain in limbo.

Diane Ashby, who was promoted as interim chief operating officer, but then moved back to her original post as executive director, residential and place services, has now resigned from WSCC altogether and is on her way to work for Southern Water.

This leaves five of the top posts in the county council vacant and five filled by interim people, including consultants.

Concerns are growing that Louise Goldsmith and her group are presiding over an exodus of talent, skills and knowledge just as the council is planning to introduce massive budget cuts – cuts amounting to £120m that will affect everyone in West Sussex.

At times of austerity, it is important to have real opportunities to review spending decisions and have meaningful dialogue with those people who will be affected by them, and not have cuts introduced by stealth.

What matters is keeping talent, people who care

and people who are brave enough to challenge political dogma.

Alarm bells are ringing within the Don’t Cut Us Out Campaign, which speaks for the vulnerable across West Sussex.

We are increasingly hearing from families and individuals under strain from job cuts, salary freezes and support being refused/delayed.

The first round of cuts was painful; the next cuts are going to really hurt, particularly for some of the most vulnerable people in West Sussex.

West Sussex County Council appears to be having real trouble holding on to its senior staff, and wasting time and resources while social care is in crisis.

So is there a plan B or C and just how long will it be before Louise Goldsmith rearranges the council’s deckchairs once again?

Margaret Guest

Chairman

Don’t Cut Us Out Campaign Midhurst