In a letter to council staff this week announcing the chief executive’s departure within the month, Conservative leader Louise Goldsmith said she and Mr Stigant were agreed a ‘new kind of leadership’ was required.
The three group leaders representing the other political parties also agreed with this statement, however, each has called instead for Mrs Goldsmith to consider her position.
Opposition leader Mike Glennon said: “The UKIP group were amazed that such a fundamental step did not merit earlier consultation with the other groups and I would remind Louise that UKIP took 30 per cent of the vote across West Sussex in May
“The Conservatives are the governing group but they act with absolute autonomy and often thinly veiled contempt for the views of the other parties.
“I believe she should be considering her position given that 62 per cent of the electorate did not support her party back in May and I think her intensely autocratic leadership style is not only alienating the UKIP and other groups but also many of her own councillors.”
Dr James Walsh of the Liberal Democrats, the longest serving member of WSCC, agreed, declaring there exists no mandate for the decision to axe the chief executive post.
“Lousie Goldsmith should be considering her position, because this has not been discussed or the council consulted in any way.”
Brenda Smith, of the Labour group said that while she had not had the opportunity to discuss the issue fully with her group ‘it has been floated that she [Mrs Goldsmith] should be considering her position’. “There is no mandate,” said Mrs Smith. “He has only been in post for three years.”
The issue will go before Full Council on February 14, 2014, two weeks after it was announced Mr Stigant will leave the local authority.
Today, Mrs Goldsmith declined to comment on the issues raised by the leaders of the UKIP, LDems and Labour group at County Hall.
Mary Pett, the honorary secretary of the Association of Local Authority Chief Executives, said Conservative leaders in particular ‘seem to think they can do it all themselves without professional managerial leadership’.
“There is no substitute long term for strong professional leadership to complement political skills,” she said.
“Politicians and good managers are not the same thing.”
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