Fancy a job at the top? Sunderland City Council to begin search for new chief executive

Sunderland City Council is getting ready to begin the search for its next chief executive.

Friday, 23rd March 2018, 5:00 am
Sunderland Civic Centre, the headquarters of the city council.

With a workforce of more than 2,800 and a budget of £646 million, it is no small task - but with further Government cuts on the horizon, is likely to face tougher times.

The authority has started to initiate a recruitment process to replace current chief executive Irene Lucas CBE.

Irene Lucas CBE, the serving chief executive of Sunderland City Council.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

She was appointed in March last year on a fixed term basis until June 2019, after previously holding the role on an interim basis since April 2016.

The council says the recruitment drive will start soon to allow it plenty of time to find the right person for the job, with senior officers already working at other authorities likely to have a long notice period to serve.

According to its accounts Ms Lucas was paid £177,816 for the financial year spanning 2016/17.

Council leader Councillor Harry Trueman said: “The council is looking to begin a recruitment process for a new chief executive in May and June.

Councillor Harry Trueman, leader of Sunderland City Council.

“If the process is successful, it is anticipated that a new appointee could be starting in late summer or the autumn.

“Further details will be confirmed in due course.”

Councillor Robert Oliver, leader of the Conservative group on the council, said the recruitment drive gives bosses the chance to make a saving on its wage bill for top officers.

The Tory members have highlighted that the chief executive is paid more than Prime Minister Theresa May’s annual bill, which stands at £77,896.

Sunderland City Council's Conservative group leader Councillor Robert Oliver

He said: “Few councils pay their top employee more than the leader of the country and there is little justification for such a high salary for a city of a third of a million people compared to an entire nation.

“With a vacancy to be filled soon the council needs to attract a good candidate and pay a salary that allows the city to be competitive with other areas but there is an opportunity for it to be reduced.”

Sunderland City Council is also looking to recruit a new executive director of corporate services, which attracts a salary of £130,000.

The job advert states the right candidate will “lead and help shape the full spectrum of corporate services which the council needs to achieve its ambitions.”

Irene Lucas CBE, the serving chief executive of Sunderland City Council.

The vacancy has been advertised as existing director Barry Scarr is moving on to a new role elsewhere.

The role will cover areas including finance, ICT, customer services, human resources and organisational development, assurance, procurement, performance and contract management and legal and governance services.

The advert adds: “If you are a qualified accountant, you will undertake the role of Section 151 Officer, but we are open- minded on this and are keen to hear from candidates from other relevant professional service areas within this remit.

“With extensive senior leadership experience in a large and complex multi-disciplinary organisation, you will provide the strategic thinking, challenge and direction to support the delivery of our vision for Sunderland.”

Councillor Harry Trueman, leader of Sunderland City Council.
Sunderland City Council's Conservative group leader Councillor Robert Oliver