Row Breaks Out Over Process To Appoint New Chief Executive

Labour pull out of search claiming the party has been 'stitched up'

Paul Martin current CE of Wandsworth & Richmond Councils

A row has broken out over the process to appoint a new chief executive to run Richmond and Wandsworth Councils. Last week it was announced that the current chief executive, Paul Martin, would be stepping down from his role later this year.

However, according to the Labour Party in Wandsworth, there was a two hour row in private session at last week’s staffing committee over how a new chief executive would be appointed.

This has led to the party withdrawing its search for a new chief executive, claiming it had been “stitched up” in the process.

The Labour Party has one member on the shared staffing committee, as the opposition party in Wandsworth Council. There are no Labour Party Councillors in Richmond.

Nevertheless, Wandsworth Labour leader Simon Hogg, pictured above, said the party would not support the job search for the new chief executive because they were only offered one place on the panel of eight. He said: “The chief executive is the most important job in the council. Sadly, Wandsworth Conservatives are trying to stitch up the selection of our new council boss.”

He added, “Wandsworth Labour won the popular vote at the last election and we have nearly half the councillors. There’s every chance we’ll take control of the council in two years at the next election. So we need a chief executive both Labour and Conservative can have confidence in. It’s unfair and disrespectful to shut Labour councillors out of the process in this way and we won’t be taking part unless we’re treated as equal partners.”

A spokesperson for Wandsworth Council said: “This panel will help select a new joint chief executive for both Wandsworth and Richmond councils. The panel is comprised of members of both the ruling and opposition groups from both authorities and the panel’s make up carefully reflects this.

“Opposition groups have always been represented on appointments committees in past chief executive appointments and for all other top jobs and it’s very much hoped that this tradition of cross party involvement continues in the future.”

Paul Martin joined Wandsworth Council in 2010 and since 2016 has also been Chief Executive of Richmond Council as part of a shared staffing arrangement between the two authorities. Leaders of both Richmond and Wandsworth councils thanked Mr Martin for his service.

Sian Bayley - Local Democracy Reporter

March 4, 2020