LETTER: A response to abrupt departure of chief executive

I AM writing in response to a letter in last week’s Observer from Margaret Guest.

Kieran Stigant’s so-called abrupt departure followed a joint decision that the post of chief executive was no longer needed, a joint decision between Kieran, myself and fellow members of the cabinet.

Let me clarify, categorically, there were no arguments, no showdowns and there was certainly no dismissal.

Any suggestion to the contrary is erroneous and does a disservice to Kieran Stigant whom Margaret Guest so rightly praises.

There have, in the past, been joint meetings with Don’t Cut Us Out, myself and Kieran Stigant and I have always been very open to further constructive dialogue.

However, Margaret Guest and fellow members of the Don’t Cut Us Out campaign have declined such offers.

To suggest or imply otherwise is not correct.

The council has to make provision for redundancies.

These are one-off payments, not on-going payments and therefore cannot be compared with costs in running services.

Yes, we had to make the difficult decision to raise the threshold of eligibility to the proposed national threshold.

Let me assure readers that we are still investing £181m each year and we provide a thoroughly reliable service which is much appreciated by users.

As for our vulnerable adults – in the proposed budget we are increasing this budget by £6.26m, which I believe will be supported by all councillors.

Mrs Guest talks about Kieran’s bonus, but there was no such bonus payment last year. His contract did not provide for one for his first two years in the post.

He was eligible for one this year and it was agreed by Kieran and myself, supported by the cabinet, that this would go into a fund to help and support children who are looked after by the council – I hope that meets with Mrs Guest’s approval.

An inconvenient truth for Mrs Guest is we have to make savings.

We have to balance our budget across a range of competing demands , like every household up and down the country.

The public have been kept informed of our budget proposals and our commitment to avoid 
council tax increases, if possible, and there will be further opportunities to have their say on future spending and savings plans as 
they are prepared by our services over the coming months.

Our conversation with our residents never ends.

May I reassure readers that my most important consideration has and always will be making sure West Sussex County Council delivers the very best services it can for its residents.

Louise Goldsmith.

Leader

West Sussex County Council

Chichester West Division