Northants is the biggest challenge of my career, says new FD

11 Oct 18

Northamptonshire Council’s incoming finance chief has told PF he is “looking forward” to the “biggest challenge” of his career.

Ian Duncan, currently the interim finance and procurement director at Wiltshire Council, described his new role as “unique”.

The CIPFA member is hoping to turn around not only the council’s finances but the headlines about it too.

“There will still be public scrutiny around the decisions being made but I would hope get to the point where we are not in the headlines for any mismanagement of our financial position,” he said.  

But Duncan recognises the scale of the challenge.

While there were a lot of councils “grappling with their own financial positions”, he said, “[Northamptonshire] has got that and more”.

PF revealed Duncan was taking over the role on Tuesday, after Northamptonshire advertised over the summer it was looking for someone to take on its “unique challenge” and “make hard decisions”.

Northamptonshire’s 151 officer has taken the unprecedented step of issuing the council two section 114 notice in a year, meaning the local authority is effectively bankrupt. The first section 114 notice was the first of its kind in 20 years.

Duncan, a CIPFA member since 1979, told PF: “Over my career I have faced a number of challenges and this is the biggest one yet.”

He said this the role will be particularly difficult because of the “spotlight that is being shone on the council at the moment”.

Duncan will be teaming up for a second time with Theresa Grant, the council’s chief executive, having previously worked with her at Trafford Council.

He told PF: “My relationship with Theresa is one of the reasons I applied because we work well together.

“I think all finance directors will agree that one of the key relationships is between the finance director and the chief executive, and with a lot to do in a short space of time I will have the advantage of going in there knowing how each of us works.”

Duncan has previously worked at South Tyneside, Solihull, Trafford, Thameside before Wiltshire Council.

He will join Northamptonshire on November 1 and oversee the council’s move to a two unitary structure.

On the breaking up of the council, Duncan said: “It’s a real challenge - it’s not something I have been involved in before to such an extent, so that whole agenda I find professionally stimulating and I am looking forward to it.”

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