The Conservative Group on Monmouthshire County Council has called on the Labour administration to scrap its experimental job share, where responsibility for the finance portfolio is divided between two councillors – something that has not worked successfully anywhere in the UK.
It comes as the administration is reporting a six figure overspend for the second year running and the Council Leader has already warned that the 2024-25 budget will require ‘fundamental changes’.
Last month, the administration announced that the Cabinet Member for Resources role previously held by Cllr Rachel Garrick would become a job share with Cllr Ben Callard joining the cabinet for the first time. But instead of a traditional job share where the job is divided in two, responsibilities are split between the two councillors who are expected to continue to attend all cabinet meetings.
Earlier this year, Monmouthshire County Council’s draft budget was rejected for the first time ever forcing the administration into changes and councillors were forced to consider a revised budget just hours before the legal deadline to set a budget.
Commenting, the Leader of the Opposition, Cllr Richard John said, “This is a critical time for the county’s finances and the worst time imaginable to experiment with trendy ideas to divide budget management in a way that hasn’t worked anywhere else in the UK.
“The administration has been unable to point to any other council that has successfully split up oversight of its financial arrangements in this bizarre way.
“Just days after the council leader confirmed that Monmouthshire is on course to be bankrupt within three years, Cllr Brocklesby announced that the finance portfolio is going to be split in two.
“We haven’t been given a reason for the change and residents will want reassurances that this is aimed at ensuring effective oversight of council budgets and not meeting the lifestyle choices of individual councillors.
“We’re not opposed to the concept of job shares, but the experience in Monmouthshire so far hasn’t been positive.
“Last year, the council’s smallest cabinet portfolio ‘equalities and engagement’ was split in a job share but Cllr Catherine Fookes quit after barely six months as there were apparently issues with cabinet colleagues expecting job shares to turn up at every single meeting instead of divvying up responsibilities.
“This job split has already caused chaos in meetings with cabinet colleagues expressing confusion about which part of the job share has voting rights on various reports.
“The administration needs to concede that this job split is not going to work, is not in the best interests of council taxpayers and should be scrapped.”