Leaked e-mail reveals doubts over new Cornwall Council boss
A LEAKED e-mail has revealed doubts among prominent representatives of other organisations over the choice of new Cornwall Council chief executive before he has been confirmed in the post.
The message sent by the council's top legal officer the day after Andrew Kerr was announced as the preferred candidate exposes a high-level external panel's "overall concern about his lack of passion and clear strategy".
And although the full council will have the final say, Richard Williams, Cornwall Council head of legal, democratic and procurement services, also wrote that councillors were "very likely" to confirm the recommendation.
Mr Williams highlighted the concerns in an e-mail explaining the decision to go with Mr Kerr to members of a 'stakeholder panel' of senior representatives of partner agencies who were consulted as part of the appointment process. The stakeholder panel, which interviewed the candidates last Wednesday, included bosses from the Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group, Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, Cornwall and Devon Police, Cornwall College, Truro and Penwith College, Cornwall Chamber of Commerce and the Environment Agency.
Buy one get one free on main course and specials excludes fillet steaks and beef Wellington
Must book to qualify 01209 860332 and present voucher on arrival
Mon- Thur 6-9pm
Contact: 01209 700617
Valid until: Saturday, December 21 2013
Then on Friday, Mr Kerr, current chief operating officer of Cardiff Council, was named as the Cornwall Council selection panel's "unanimous" choice for the £158,000 to £176,000-a-year job, after two days of final considerations of three candidates. The other two were not named.
But in his e-mail yesterday (Saturday) Mr Williams admits the recipients may be "surprised, if not a little disappointed" by the outcome, "in view of the nature of the deliberations" of the stakeholder panel.
He also wrote: "I sensed that discussion about Andrew was 'squeezed out' following the performance of the last candidate. I suspect that our views of Andrew might have been different had we discussed each candidate in detail following each of the interviews."
He states that the stakeholder panel discussion was only part of the process and "Andrew performed better in other panels on the first day". He also referred to many of the stakeholders' having said all three candidates were strong.
But his e-mail, seen by the West Briton, adds: "Most importantly for the process and the relationships between the Council and your organisations moving forward, I was able to feed back the overall concern about his lack of passion and clear strategy which enabled that to be considered in depth by the Member interview panel on the second day ... I can say that the Member Panel were able to satisfy themselves that Andrew's evident track record was backed up by a strong vision for the future of Cornwall and a firm desire to see that collectively and decisively delivered working alongside partner organisations."
He also tells them he has passed on the concern that it would have been helpful for the panel to have had a copy of the job description - or "Role Profile of the Chief Executive" - before meeting.
However, a source close to the stakeholder group said "in typical Cornwall Council fashion, the councillors ignored the unanimous views of their stakeholders.
"One has to wonder what the point is of asking stakeholders to be involved and then ignoring their input?".
Mr Kerr had been branded a "fatcat" after leaving his £183,000-a-year job as chief executive of Wiltshire Council after 18 months with a six-figure payout.
Chairman of the selection panel, Councillor Fiona Ferguson, said when its recommendation was announced: "There was a strong field of candidates but I am pleased we have been able to make a unanimous recommendation."
Although the final decision will be taken at full meeting of Cornwall Council on Tuesday, Mr Williams also wrote to the stakeholders: "It is unlikely that the recommendation will not be followed."