People & Appointments

Wiltshire Council appoints chief executive, dismisses 'bankruptcy' claims

Written by Peter Davison.

Terence Herbert

 

Wiltshire Council has named experienced local government officer Terence Herbert as its new chief executive, as the authority reduces the number of officers at the top from two to one.

Terence will take up the role on 1 July and will be working with the elected leader and cabinet to shape the organisation moving forwards and lead the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Terence has over 25 years of local government experience and has been with Wiltshire Council for over nine years. He previously worked for the London Borough of Lewisham, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and North Somerset Council.

During his time with Wiltshire Council he has held a number of roles, including head of service for safeguarding, associate director for children's services, executive director for children and families, leisure and communities, corporate services, HR and organisational development, and most recently, chief executive officer for people.

The council has also accepted an application for voluntary redundancy from Alistair Cunningham. The outgoing chief executive officer for place will be leaving the council on 31 July, having worked for the council since 2001.

Cllr Philip Whitehead, leader of Wiltshire Council, said: "I am delighted Terence has accepted this position. He comes with a wealth of experience and a great understanding of Wiltshire and the communities we serve.

"In this new structure the chief executive will provide a focal point of leadership for the council's recovery from the impact of Covid-19 and will support the council to refocus its future strategies and priorities.

"The response to Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the council's financial position and this, together with the impact on our communities and our economy, will mean challenges that require us to evolve and change as a council to meet them. Myself and the cabinet look forward to working with Terence in this new role."

Meanwhile, the council has moved to deny that it faces effective 'bankruptcy' as a result of the pandemic.

Last week The County Councils Network, which represents 39 of the biggest English authorities, told government ministers that a second wave of coronavirus would leave them with a multibillion-pound budget shortfall, triggering a wave of insolvencies and forcing a fresh round of emergency cuts to local services.

Calling for a government-backed “income guarantee” to underpin council finances over the next five years, it said the financial impact of Covid-19 pressures “may lead to a significant number of councils being forced to consider whether a section 114 notice is required.”

But this week the authority said it was confident that "there will be no need to issue a section 114 notice."

Cllr Philip Whitehead said: "What we're facing is not any different to every other council at the moment. In fact, given our prudent and efficient running of the council over the last decade or so, I'd say we're actually in a better position than many.

"We are undoubtedly facing challenges, and are not shying away from that, however we are confident Government will be providing further financial support, and together with our careful planning, this will help us get through this.

"We want to reassure residents who are seeing the word ‘bankruptcy' in the media that everyone at the council is working round the clock and is fully committed to deal with this head-on.

"A section 114 notice is always a last resort, and it is not something we're contemplating at the moment."

The council's cabinet recently agreed to revise the council's capital programme, originally agreed in February 2020, so that the focus of its capital resources is on the key investment projects during 2020/21 and is aligned with the upcoming recovery.

Although there have been projects deferred into 2021/22, no project or scheme within the programme has been stopped or removed.