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Newry Council ‘at massive risk’ over failure to recruit new directors

A Northern Ireland council’s deputy chairperson has raised concerns the local authority may be putting itself “at massive risk” over a failure to recruit new directors.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC) is currently without the senior managers in a number of its departments for over a year.

A recent audit report to councillors showed three directors, including the deputy chief executive, left the council in the middle of 2022. The chamber also heard another director (environment) is leaving in the coming weeks.

Downpatrick SDLP rep, Gareth Sharvin said: “It may be a short lived risk, but we need to acknowledge that it is a risk.

“May be come January we close the risk out, but I think we need to be able to track it in the event that we don’t close out recruitment come early next year.

“How can I accept this risk report as it stands, when a massive risk could yet still be added?”

A Council spokesperson said: “Newry, Mourne and Down District Council provides the following accurate information in relation to the Council’s Senior Management Team, which consists of four Directors – Active and Healthy Communities, Corporate Services, Economy, Regeneration and Tourism, and Sustainability and Environment.

“All positions are currently filled, with the exception of the Director Active and Healthy Communities, which became vacant in April 2023.  The recruitment process to appoint a Director to this position has commenced and an appointment is expected in due course.  Following completion of this process all Senior Management positions will be filled.

“In 2019/2020, the Council agreed to a new organisational directorate and management structure, which does not have a designated Deputy Chief Executive position.  However, the role of Deputy Chief Executive can be carried by a Director in addition to their own role.  Furthermore, it did not have a Senior Management Team consisting of six senior officers.

“Looking ahead, a recruitment process for a replacement Director of Sustainability and Environment will also take place this year as it is known that this position will become vacant in April 2024.  An appointment to this position next year will ensure a full Senior Management Team continues to be in place.

“The Council reassures ratepayers that the Senior Management Team continues to work to deliver on the Council’s strategic priorities and ensures the organisational effectiveness of the whole organisation across all service areas.”

The article was amended on Tuesday, September 26 with an updated statement from Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. 

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