Wiltshire Council chief executive Andrew Kerr to be made redundant

Andrew Kerr Andrew Kerr had been criticised for his pay packet of £183,000

The chief executive of Wiltshire Council is to be made redundant as part of a plan to reduce management costs.

Andrew Kerr, who helped the authority save more than £18m last year, joined the council in February 2010.

Under the proposals considered by the cabinet, one corporate director post will also be shed, reducing the number of corporate directors to three.

Earlier this year the Conservative-led administration axed 220 managers, saving the authority £8m.

Mr Kerr had only been in the job for a year-and-a-half.

His £183,000 salary had faced criticism from the start. There was more controversy in May 2011 when it emerged he was due to get a £6,000 increase.

After initially defending it, Andrew Kerr yielded to pressure and cancelled his rise, accepting it looked bad when other staff were losing their jobs.

His own departure has come as a bolt from the blue. Also going will be one of Wiltshire Council's four corporate directors.

It has surprised many, including colleagues, senior councillors and unions.

The Conservative administration says the "deletion" of these posts will save £500,000 a year. But the leader of the opposition Liberal Democrats has described it as "insane".

For councils everywhere these are unprecedented times, with unprecedented financial pressures.

Few though have tried anything quite as radical.

His appointment was seen as critical when he took charge months after the creation of the West's biggest local authority.

Wiltshire Council replaced a county council and four district councils and has an annual budget of more than £800m.

A council spokesman said the pressures on the council's budget both now and in the future were not to be underestimated.

"Next year the council needs to find additional savings as a result of the reduction in government grant, increased costs as a result of inflation, and the increasing number of older people requiring adult care services and young people requiring support."

A two-week period of consultation on the proposals has begun and the proposal and feedback will be considered by the council's cabinet in the week commencing 26 September.

Mr Kerr decided in May 2011 to hand back his £6,000 incremental increase in his £183,000 pay following media coverage and interest in his salary.

He originally said of his pay rise: "I've got 15,000 staff. This business turns over nearly £1bn a year. We deliver 350-odd different services. It's a big complex job which I believe justifies the salary that I earn."

Speaking then Unison said workers would be cynical that the announcement only came after publicity about him accepting it.

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