EXCLUSIVE: FENLAND FINANCE CHIEF TO KEEP JOB DESPITE MOVING TO AUSTRALIA!
EXCLUSIVE By JOHN ELWORTHY FENLAND District Council is to retain its successful £100,000 a year finance director despite the fact he is emigrating to Australia. As 44 year-old Mat Taylor sets up home 10,000 miles away in Adelaide he will work one day a w
By JOHN ELWORTHY
FENLAND District Council is to retain its successful £100,000 a year finance director despite the fact he is emigrating to Australia.
As 44 year-old Mat Taylor sets up home 10,000 miles away in Adelaide he will work one day a week- and keep the finance chief post- thanks to the wonders of modern technology.
"When the idea was put to me my first question was 'is there a precedent?" said Council Leader Geoff Harper. "The answer was 'no'. I then asked if it was legal- and was told that it was. So here we are- and the council is confident it will work well both for us and Mat."
"We have found an exciting and innovative way of retaining his considerable expertise until we have recruited someone who can replace him.
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"We are the first local authority in the country to fully utilise modern technology to deliver a highly cost-effective solution to the problem of maintaining continuity when there is a change in key personnel.
He added: "Retaining Mat's services is much more cost-efficient than bringing in an interim finance director."
Mr Taylor, who has worked for the council for five years, said: "Fenland has been a fantastic place to live and work.
"I first moved to March in 1996 and in that time I've seen an amazing improvement in both the council and Fenland. As a resident of Fenland for 12 years, I'm really looking forward to being able to remain connected to the great things going on at the council."
The council's deputy chief executive Sandra Claxton said: "Modern technology within the council linked to the World Wide Web, ensures that there are no obstacles in communication."
Cllr Harper endorsed the extraordinary arrangements after the council's staff committee gave the green light to a report by Ms Claxton.
For weeks the council has tried to talk Mr Taylor out of quitting- and out of emigrating- and there was even talk of allowing him to take a sabbatical to give him time to see if he liked working down under.
Ms Claxton told the council's staff committee- at a confidential briefing- that Mr Taylor's "excellent finance management" had played a pivotal role in the council's success story. As part of the council's transformation it was "a position it will wish to retain."
She said that the only other option open to the council was to appoint an interim manager- at a cost of £800 a day- and begin the process to find Mr Taylor's successor. However the interim manager would be unfamiliar with Fenland's structure and operating practices "and an interim manager could not possibly be expected to fulfil all the requirements of the permanent post."
By retaining Mr Taylor for one day a week- for an initial 12 month period- it would ensure "the council's smooth running from the point of his departure, a seamless handover to the new appointee and continued coaching and support thereafter."
Crucially Mr Taylor will continue to fulfil what is known in local government circles as a 151 chief finance officer- a role that would have required outside help, probably from a neighbouring council, in the interim.
Cllr Harper insisted the new arrangements would be "cost neutral" whilst Ms Claxton said the arrangement would be "significantly more cost effective" than relying on temporary staff.
The council also says an internal promotion has been ruled out since there are no suitable experienced and qualified accountants eligible for the post.
Cllr Harper added: "Mat has the experience and knowledge of Fenland's future plans and finances and he will remain an invaluable member of the senior management team until a suitable replacement is found. Mat will also play a key role in supporting whoever is appointed during the handover period.