The chief executive at Harrow Council could be scrapped by the new Tory administration in the next few days.
In what has been packaged as a cost-cutting measure, Michael Lockwood – who has been the chief executive at the authority for the last few years – could be removed from his position in the coming days as a consultation on the decision to scrap the role ends today.
A council spokesman said: "The consultation to remove the chief executive ends today but this is a very significant proposal so we are going to take a few days to consider all views raised. We will then talk to Michael before making a decision."
Mr Lockwood did not attend the council’s Remembrance Day service, however, and the council have since confirmed to the Observer that he is on leave, but would not confirm when this leave began.
Observer reader David Brough said in a letter to this paper: “In recent times, Harrow Council has been in political chaos with three different parties supposedly in charge in a very short space of time. With continuing political instability and uncertainty, the role of the chief executive in keeping the services going is even more important than ever. What is councillor Susan Hall’s real motive? Does she think she can do the job of the chief executive as well as being leader of the council?”
The decision has also been criticised by both Labour factions.
Independent Labour leader and previous leader of the council, Thaya Idaikkadar, said: “If you sack the manager of Manchester United, you will save millions. The problem is, you will also lose all your matches.”
Councillor David Perry, the leader of the Labour Group, told the Observer: “It is very destabilising for the council and the staff structure. This has not been done in the right way. It is a ‘back of the fag packet’ proposal.
“As a chief executive, in the civic centre and around the community, he is very popular. He goes out of his way to help people and at a time when there are huge challenges facing the council, he tries to do what is right.”
Mr Lockwood could be offered a six-figure pay out should he be dismissed, but the Conservative administration maintain it would still enable the council to make much-needed long term savings.