Gosport opposition councillors criticise plans to use Portsmouth City Council executives

A PROPOSAL which would see Portsmouth council executives take on work in Gosport has come under fire from the opposition leader.

Earlier this week, it was announced that senior staff from Portsmouth City Council could take over the chief executive, deputy chief executive, solicitor and treasurer roles at Gosport Borough Council.

As well as the four executive roles being made redundant, the vacant housing services manager and head of economic prosperity, tourism and culture positions will not be filled. The post of head of housing operational services has also been made redundant along with the head of personnel and the head of pay and central services.

It means Gosport’s council would save £344,195 a year – but it would lead to £1.029m being spent in redundancy pay-offs.

It would save money as the authority currently spends £591,847 on annual salaries.

Instead, it will pay Portsmouth City Council £247,652 for the use of their senior staff including chief executive David Williams, city solicitor Michael Lawther and finance boss Chris Ward.

The cost of redundancy has been criticised by Gosport council’s Liberal Democrat leader Peter Chegwyn, who called it outrageous.

He said: ‘It is a staggering and an outrageous sum of money they are spending to pay off these people. Some of them are only a couple of years from retirement.

‘This proposal is the beginning of the end for Gosport having its own separate council. I am totally opposed to it.

‘If we are losing management, it is only a matter of time until we are run totally from Portsmouth.’

Cllr Chegwyn was also unhappy that the plans were not mentioned before the council elections in May.

He added: ‘It is a disgrace that they have kept this under wraps until after the elections. It seems they have been talking about it for weeks or even months.’

But leader of the council Mark Hook has defended the proposals, which will be presented to Gosport councillors at a meeting next Wednesday.

He said: ‘The redundancy amount is staggering, but so is the amount of money we will save by doing this.

‘The reason we are doing this is to protect our frontline services so we can have that same level of service with a reduced budget.’

In the report for the meeting, Cllr Hook added the proposal was radical but necessary.

‘We need to save money and if we don’t then we could be forced into merging,’ he said.

‘I want Gosport councillors making decisions for Gosport people in Gosport town hall. This is what it’s all about.

‘If we don’t do something these decisions will be taken out of our hands. I am not prepared for that to happen.’

If agreed by both councils, the shared management proposals could be in place by November.