I’ll quit to save cash - council boss

Retiring - Council and PCT chief executive Joyce Redfearn
Retiring - Council and PCT chief executive Joyce Redfearn
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WIGAN Council’s boss is offering to take early retirement as part of its bid to save £66m.

Shake-up proposals for the top tier of management have been tabled which would save the authority another £200,000 a year by reducing the Chief Executive’s salary and axing another senior management post.

As part of these proposals current Chief Exec Joyce Redfearn, who last year earned £187,000 - £45,000 more than the Prime Minister - has applied for early retirement.

The proposals will be taken to full Council on Wednesday for a final decision. The announcement comes just days after finance chiefs suggested the number of voluntary redundancies at the council should be more than doubled to balance the books.

A new report is recommending that councillors aim to reduce the town hall head count by a further 700 staff – on top of the 482 employees originally cited for non-compulsory severance to help counter the effects of Government spending cuts.

Speaking of 56-year-old Ms Redfearn’s offer to leave, Council leader Lord Smith said: “It is a tough decision to take these proposals to Council as we do not want to lose Joyce.

“However the potential savings are significant and we cannot treat the Chief Executive any differently from other employees who are eligible to apply for early retirement.

“If these proposals are accepted she will be greatly missed by her staff and councillors and I would like to recognise and thank Joyce for her vision, determination and dedication to Wigan. On behalf of everyone, I wish her all the best for the future.”

Ms Redfearn said: “If the proposals are accepted I will be very sad to leave but the reality is that the organisation has to make savings of £66m over the next three years.

“Wigan is a great place with dedicated and talented staff and I am proud to have been Chief Executive here. Even in these difficult times we continue to perform well and I am sure that my colleagues will ensure that Wigan and the people who live here have confidence for the future.”

Ms Redfearn has been at the helm of Wigan Council for seven years and has been awarded a CBE in recognition of her significant contribution to local government while in the borough.

Over the past two years, the Council has invited staff to volunteer for early retirement or redundancy to reduce the need for compulsory redundancies. If the proposals are accepted, a new Chief Executive will be appointed from the current senior management team. This will reduce the top team to three, making it the leanest management team in Greater Manchester.

Ms Redfearn has since 2010 also been chief executive of the local Primary Care Trust - for no extra salary - which is set to be wound up next year and replaced by GP Consortia.

It is not clear how that role would be filled in the interim should Ms Redfearn step down soon.