Islington and Camden councils to share chief executives in a bid to save money

A DRASTIC money-saving measure could see Islington and Camden councils both lose their most senior employee.

A DRASTIC money-saving measure could see Islington and Camden councils both lose their most senior employee.

This year, Islington Council is paying chief executive John Foster �210,000 while Camden Council is paying chief executive Moira Gibb �199,961 - plus a bonus of �15,997.

But in groundbreaking move, both councils are now thinking of sharing a single chief executive when Mr Foster retires in May 2011 - with Ms Gibb being primed to take on the role.

It is not yet known how much extra Ms Gibb would be paid to take on responsibility for Islington Council, but it is expected that both councils would split the overall cost.

Because of Government cuts, each council needs to save up to �100million by 2013-14.

That means that both councils need to make significant cuts to their �250million-odd annual budgets.

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Councillor Catherine West, the Labour leader of Islington Council, said: "In the face of Government cuts, it's more important than ever that we save money.

"By working together, we have more clout when it comes to getting better value for money in service delivery."

Councillor Nasim Ali, the Labour leader of Camden Council, added: "As the scale of the cuts to public services becomes clearer, it is right that we examine all the options available to protect the frontline services our residents value.

"I want us to examine in detail how such a groundbreaking arrangement across Camden and Islington could drive down costs and reduce bureaucracy."

Councillors West and Ali are believed to have been discussing how Islington and Camden could combine services to save money since before the May 6 local election - which is when both councils came under Labour control.

Islington's fledgling Labour administration was particularly keen to work with a council that was not only high-performing but that also shared the same political affiliation and catered for a similar population.

Islington Council's opposition Liberal Democrat group welcomed moves to share chief executives - but insisted it was an idea originally floated by their party.

Lib-Dem group leader Councillor Terry Stacy, who led the council until the May 6 election, said: "I am chuffed that Labour has decided to take on my suggestion to have a joint chief executive. I am delighted that they have chosen Moira Gibb. I hope that we can look forward to at least �250,000 in savings for Islington taxpayers. But this is another example of Labour nicking a Lib-Dem idea and running with it."

It has not yet been decided whether Islington and Camden councils would each have their own deputy chief executives. At present, Camden Council has a deputy chief executive - who is this year being paid a total of �148,420 - but Islington Council does not.