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Two Welsh councils could share Chief Executive

22 Apr 2024 3 minute read
Blaenavon Ironworks, Torfaen

Twm Owen Local Democracy Reporter

Two neighbouring Welsh councils could come under the leadership of the same Chief Executive due to financial pressures and shared challenges.

Torfaen Borough Council’s most senior officer could become responsible for Blaenau Gwent under a new shared chief executive post. 

Stephen Vickers was appointed as the chief executive of Torfaen in 2021 and is now being put forward to take on a joint chief executive position with his counterpart in Blaenau Gwent, Damien McCann, due to retire this June. 

The chief executive is a council’s most senior officer and as head of the council’s staff responsible for ensuring council services are delivered and decisions taken by the elected political leadership are implemented. 

Potential savings

Mr Vickers’ annual salary is £132,023 and Torfaen has paid its most senior officers in line with nationally negotiated rates, rather than using its discretion for top posts. Blaenau Gwent also follows nationally agreed rates and has a top salary for its chief executive at £116,000 a year. 

Any decision to appoint a joint chief executive will have to be approved by both councils and Torfaen Borough Council has said Mr Vickers’ appointment will be “initially for a defined period” to look at potential savings and ways of working across both councils.

Stephen Vickers is the chief executive of Torfaen Borough Council. Picture: Torfaen County Borough Council.

Torfaen’s Labour leader Anthony Hunt said the intention is to help maintain services amid shrinking budgets while Stephen Thomas, the Labour leader of Blaenau Gwent, denied the appointment would be a step towards a merger. 

Cllr Thomas said: “This is a full-time CEO working across both councils. It is not a move towards each council having a part-time CEO or a merger of the two councils.  

“Both councils would maintain political and financial sovereignty, each maintaining their own priorities and plans, governance structures and their own political independence.”


“However, we believe this joint role can present some real opportunities to kick on from the progress both councils have made over the last few years.” 

Torfaen leader Cllr Hunt said “Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen are neighbours, and our councils and communities face many similar challenges. The public are very familiar with the many challenges faced by both councils, including a combined projected financial pressure of around £70 million over the next four years.” 

He added: “This could also help mitigate the very real financial and operational risks faced by both councils.” 

The plan, which Torfaen council said has been discussed with the Welsh Local Government Association, is due to be considered by both councils in the coming months. 

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1 month ago

A step in the right direction. Moving onto a “common services” platform could prove beneficial.

Andrew Thomas
Andrew Thomas
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Agreed too many authorities in wales should be cut be cut to about 12 1200 councillors is too many 500-600 is ample with a councillors full time and getting 60% of a senedd member salary to encourage younger people

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
1 month ago

There should definitely be a cut in the number of councils and a pooling of resources.

But why stop there?

The four police forces should merge into one, along with abolition of the PCCs

The three fire & rescue services should also merge into one.

There should also be a cut in the number of health boards.

There is the possibility of huge savings to be made, which could be used to boost the funds frontline services such as the NHS!

1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Davies

Decent standard of road and rail between North and South would facilitate a move to “All Wales” bodies for Police, Fire and Rescue, Health etc. Right now there is an unhelpful degree of isolation. H.Q’s away from Kairdiff would also be advisable. Then we could focus on service levels rather than chains of command for careerists.

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Linking the north and south by road and rail is vital for such reform.

Moving out of Cardiff would be a very good move too, its bubble is almost as bad as the westminster bubble, both detached from the reality of life!

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