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NI council CEOs ‘to be hired by open competition’

By Vivienne Russell | 5 July 2013

Chief executive appointments to Northern Ireland’s 11 new councils will be made through open competition, environment minister Alex Attwood has announced. The minister said this would be the fairest and most effective way of filling the posts.

Northern Ireland is undergoing a major local government restructure, which will cut the number of councils from 26 to 11. The authorities will also gain new powers over areas including planning, housing, local economic development and tourism.

Attwood said: ‘These posts are complex and challenging, and are key to the successful implementation of local government reform. They are fundamentally different to the current chief executive posts.

‘Not only will all councils cover a geographically larger area and serve a bigger population base, they will also deliver significant new functions and operate within a new governance framework.

‘The job specification should clearly reflect this growth and the task of building a new organisation, and reflect the transformation challenges inherent in the job.’

Attwood said that to ensure success, a full range of candidates needed to be available and the applicant pool widened. Statutory transition committees will soon be established for each council. Once they are in place, they will make the chief executive appointments.

It is anticipated that the new post-holders will be in place by the end of this year, transferring across to the new councils once they are elected in 2014.

The executive said any current local government chief executives who choose not to apply for the new roles, or whose applications are unsuccessful, would be able to apply for voluntary severance or other suitable senior local government positions via internal procedures.

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