Council chief seeks up to £5k to help job bid

Dr Theresa Donaldson
Dr Theresa Donaldson

Craigavon Council’s chief executive has requested up to £5,000 to help her bid for the new position as head of three amalgamated councils.

Dr Theresa Donaldson, who has been at the top post in Craigavon for two and a half years, applied to the council for the cash.

Dr Donaldson appears to have requested the funding to help her apply for the post of chief executive of the new Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council.

During a council meeting on Monday night, the request was put to councillors during confidential business, a meeting from which the press are excluded.

However, the Mail has seen a leaked document in which Dr Donaldson asks for a ‘maximum of £5,000’.

It was tabled under ‘Provision of support for chief executive through management of merger with Armagh and Banbridge and through upcoming recruitment process’.

The report recommended that members ‘consider the provision of support costs for chief executive up to a maximum of £5,000’.

She describes a ‘challenging programme’ which will culminate in the merger by April 2015.

The report states: “On 14 June 2013 all Chief Executives in local government received a letter from the Minister informing us that the recruitment to the new CE posts in the new councils will be on the basis of an open competition. At this stage it does not appear that this method of recruitment will apply to other posts. In view of the challenges I expect to face over the next year the provision of external support would strengthen my ability to provide the operational leadership required to support the organisation through what will be a difficult period, and to prepare to meet the challenge of a competition for a leadership post in the new environment.”

The report states that it is only relevant to the chief executive position, however it is understood all heads of departments at all the councils will have to vie for new posts.

Equality screening is described as not applicable and the report was defined as confidential because it is a ‘staffing issue’.

A spokesperson for Craigavon Borough Council said: “Craigavon is very proactive in that a training programme has already started for relevant staff (and members). This is the biggest change to local government for 40 years and as such, while delivering economies of scale for the ratepayers, will involve a significant change for our staff and for our main stakeholders. It’s imperative therefore that we as a council can embrace the inevitable challenges bringing three organisations together as smoothly as possible. Council considered it prudent therefore to ensure that the Chief Executive is adequately supported to manage the business as usual and deliver the change program in Craigavon.”