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Top Herts council boss to step down after eight years

By Stephen.Bevan  |  Posted: December 20, 2011

Herts County Council chief executive Caroline Tapster (retiring May 2012)

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HERTFORDSHIRE County Council’s £250,000-a-year chief executive is retiring in May 2012, it was announced this afternoon (Tuesday, December 20).

Caroline Tapster, right, who took home £251,190 in salary and other benefits in 2009-10, is stepping down after eight years in the high-flying role.

The decision to accept her retirement request, which comes after a 16-year career with the council, was accepted at a formal meeting of HCC’s employment committee yesterday.

And in a bid to slash its costs amid Government funding cuts for local authorities, HCC says it will not be replacing its chief executive on a “like for like” basis.

Instead, one of its directors is expected to take over chief executive duties on top of their existing responsibilities. There will eventually be a full restructure of the council’s senior management team.

Over the past two years, with the support of trade unions, the council has also been inviting staff to volunteer for redundancy or early retirement to reduce the need for compulsory redundancies.    

Council leader Cllr Robert Gordon said: “The committee, which I chair, noted that Caroline has led Hertfordshire County Council to its current position of strength, with services performing well and public satisfaction with the council significantly higher than the national average.

“Under Caroline Tapster’s management, Hertfordshire County Council has earned its reputation as a leading council, identifying significant efficiencies and improving services to the most vulnerable even in today’s tough economic climate.”

“The council has recently been short-listed for the Local Government Chronicle’s prestigious Council of the Year Award. 

“A key part of her contribution has been to develop a strong team of directors, several of whom are well-placed to step up to take on the number one role in the management of the council.

“Collectively, the senior management team has led the drive for transformation by example.  Departmental directors now manage a wider range of responsibilities and the total pay bill for this top tier of management has reduced considerably since 2007.

“It is against this background that the Employment Committee decided to accept Caroline’s wish to retire next spring, on the same terms as any other officer who the council agrees can take early retirement.

“She will be a hard act to follow, but I am confident that Hertfordshire County Council will continue to thrive, thanks in no small part to her dedication to this organisation and the people of Hertfordshire.”

Ms Tapster said: “After more than 30 years in the public sector, the time is right for me to move on.  Whether as a trainee social worker in Dorset or during my eight years as Hertfordshire County Council’s Chief Executive, I have enjoyed the challenge and privilege of bringing about improvements to the daily lives of the people we serve.

“Despite the difficult financial environment, Hertfordshire County Council is performing strongly and I have every confidence that my senior colleagues have the skills and drive to continue to make Hertfordshire a county of opportunity.

"More than ever, councils are acting as commissioners of services rather than direct providers, and my departure will allow the Leader of the Council, Robert Gordon, the flexibility to continue to re-shape the way we work at the most senior level.   

“I would like to thank my colleagues, both employees and county councillors, and my partners in the public sector, who have helped to make my role so fulfilling.”      

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  • Stephen.Bevan  |  December 22 2011, 10:19PM

    We were told that this individual was SO good, and her job SO important, that she was worth £250,000 a year. Now we learn that another director could do the job in his spare time. Likewise, at East Herts Council, Chief Executive Anne Freimanis was supposedly worth £130,000 a year - but her absence from work for several months has had no apparent impact. In the last five years these two women have pocketed hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers money. What have we been paying for? Lets not forget that under their watch there have been notable problems in social services for children and the elderly, our town centres have been run down and don't get me started on the state of our roads. Which politicians sanctioned these salaries?

  • Stephen.Bevan  |  December 22 2011, 3:03PM

    A job that was so important it's not going to be filled on a 'like for like' basis whatever that is. Good riddance.

  • Stephen.Bevan  |  December 21 2011, 1:20PM

    Don't forget the closure of the school library service. I suspect it's the likes of Tapster and Freimanis that give the impression to everyone else that public sector workers have gold plated pensions. In the case of these two, they will, but the average public sector worker has been royally screwed. Incidentally I work in the private sector.

  • Stephen.Bevan  |  December 21 2011, 8:52AM

    An early retirement package will necessitate council tax payers bearing large pension strain costs to support Ms Tapster's retirement. This was the case when Anne Freimanis did a partial retirement in 2010 costing East Herts Council £100,000 (she has been absent from work for several months). Herts CC should disclose the basic costs of the arrangement particularly as they have been pleading poverty in spending on public services to the extent of even switching off street lights.