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Malvern and Wychavon agree to share chief exec, is waste service next?

Malvern Editorial 22nd Oct, 2014 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

THE PROPOSAL to share a chief executive between Malvern Hills and Wychavon district councils has been approved by both authorities.

But opposition councillors at Malvern have branded the move as the ‘beginning of the end for MHDC’ warning it is the first step towards creating a south Worcestershire unitary council including Worcester City.

Wychavon voted through the proposal last Tuesday, October 14, and Malvern councillors followed suit on Thursday (October 16).

It means Jack Hegarty, the current managing director of Wychavon, will assume control of both authorities by December 1 on a starting salary of £118,000 a year.

In Malvern, Democratic and Liberal Democrat councillors raised concerns about the recommendations including a bid for Government funding worth £250,000 in 2015/2016 underpinned by proposals to share services.

A draft document tabled on the night stated the controlling Tories planned to share waste services with Wychavon ‘as a priority’, raising fears Malvern’s waste collection would be operated by a private company.

They would also look to join strategic planning, customer services and ‘back office functions’. The paper explicitly states an intention to include partner councils ‘especially Worcester City Council’.

Coun David Harrison, said: “Once we get rid of all of those [services] why have we got councillors? We won’t need 38 councillors there will be no point in us whatsoever. This is the start of Malvern Hills being dead and buried.”

Fellow Democratic member Tony Warburton added: “Taxpayers might ask ‘what is the point of MHDC?’ with its two primary functions having been farmed out.

“It is at that point, of course, that the move towards a joint authority becomes almost irresistible.

“This application merely provides a contribution towards this council’s funeral costs.”

However Council Leader David Hughes refuted the claims and argued Malvern Hills would maintain its sovereignty.

He said: “Whatever happens to this council in the future we will always be responsible for providing services however they are delivered.

“The accusations we will lose our independence and sovereignty flies in the face of other councils who have gone down this route.

“Experience elsewhere shows it works very well resulting in significant advantages and efficiencies.

“We will not be in a position of going down any avenue where we don’t want to go. We will still be the masters of our own destiny.”

Coun Hughes also dismissed claims the redundancy package offered to Chris Bocock, the current chief executive, would cost the tax payer in the region of £180,000. He  argued the costs had been covered by a successful bid for funding to the Department of Communities and Local Government.

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