SO, Moira Gibb will not become London’s first superexec running Camden and Islington at the same time after all. The idea has evaporated almost as soon as it was put on the cooker. There is one official explanation: A shared chief executive won’t bring about as many savings as first thought.
There are six or seven speculative alternative explanations doing the rounds in the corridors. He said. She said. She said. He said. And then he said that she said that… bleurgh.
What I couldn’t work out was whether Moira actually wanted the gig in the first place? She was open to the idea but surely it was a step into the unknown, exciting maybe, daunting as well. It’s actually interesting to see what she says in The Guardian about how ‘tricky’ the whole arrangement would have been. Jane Dudman’s piece reads:
Gibb acknowledges that the proposed merger was always going to be challenging. “It’s a very, very big deal,” she comments, adding that to date, no Labour councils or boroughs controlled three ways by Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors, have managed to merge chief executives. “This is tricky stuff,” she says.
Maybe something is lost in translation in this paragraph, but is the suggestion here that if Labour is involved in the negotiations then reaching a deal is even more challenging. Read Dudman again:
…adding that to date, no Labour councils or boroughs controlled three ways by Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors, have managed to merge chief executives.
Although not direct quotes, I’m not sure every Labour councillor in London will be happy with phrasing it that way.
What is likely that if Moira herself had doubts about the suggested arrangements then she wouldn’t be bullied into it by councillors, especially ones who had only just set up new administrations in Camden or Islington. She can read warning signs better than most council chief executives and is too shrewd to waste time with time-wasters.
She has earned respect in the world of local government and, even if the councillors who have crossed her grumble at the suggestion, Camden is certainly considered from the outside to be lucky to have her at the helm. Not many people at her level can say they’ve chiefed a council which scored top marks in every department from the Audit Commission’s old system of inspections.
Hey, how glowing does all that sound? I smell Damehood.