Businessman would make great chief executive at council

In his letter, Andrew Brown chastises me for my criticism of our departing Chief Executive Steve Rumbelow, calling me naive and puerile having no facts to back up my views.

Wednesday, 3rd December 2014, 9:00 pm
Steve Rumbelow

Puerile I may be - the same was no doubt said of the child in Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of the Emperor’s new clothes. Unlike the people of the fictitious country of Andersen’s story, the people of Burnley should not allow themselves to be taken in. The point I was making in my letter was that those who make decisions affecting us are often unelected; few of them are indispensable to us and all should be accountable to us, particularly so when they are paid - out of our taxes - very generously indeed.

Andrew Brown says of Steve Rumbelow he has had the “guts” to take on the job at Rochdale with its “..appalling allegations of maladministration and child abuse..” I don’t know whether it would or not be fair to hold the former Rochdale Chief Executive at the time these matters came to light personally accountable, but he hasn’t been sacked; rather he has taken early retirement. His immediate successor, Jim Taylor, has been in the post 18 months and was being paid £130,000 a year - a sum proposed to have been raised to £170,000. That proposal provoked a 1,200-name petition from the people of Rochdale, an action on the part of the people on which the town’s Labour MP commented with approval. The proposed pay rise was withdrawn whereupon Mr Taylor upped and left for the position of Director of Salford Council at £150,000 a year.

Into this turmoil our Mr Rumbelow has now entered. His old position at Burnley is being advertised at a paltry £105,000 a year. Who wouldn’t take a new job for another £500 a week - especially one involving less commuting.

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These salaries are beyond the comprehension of most Burnley people, very many of whom work long hours at low wages while still paying full Council Tax to fund them.

On one of my criticisms of Mr Rumbelow’s judgement I would have expected support from Andrew Brown and the Labour Party in this town - that is the decision to bulldoze the former Derby Hotel at Gannow Top, wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds of monies supposed to be used for the town’s regeneration. In 2010 the Labour Party used this decision as a major plank in its election campaign while Andrew Brown, in your letters’ page, offered to take the building over and make a profit on it - an offer the council ignored.

Mr Brown invites me to place my CV before the people of Burnley to comment upon. No need. I shall not be applying for Mr Rumbelow’s post. The position is politically restricted which rules me out straightaway. I said any new Chief Executive could well be a successful local businessman. Although at the time of writing his name hadn’t occurred to me, I wonder whether Andrew Brown wouldn’t be just the man we need? In 2010 Mr Brown stood for election as our MP so he clearly thinks he knows what would be in our town’s interest and wishes to promote it.

He stood as an independent so that doesn’t rule him out as being seen to favour any particular political party. Had Mr Brown been elected MP, he’d have been working many more hours than a Chief Executive with less chance to achieve something worthwhile and at a lot less pay.

I would like to suggest, in perfect seriousness, that Mr Brown, who wanted to be our MP and whose commitment to this town few I think would doubt, offers to take on the position of Chief Executive at an MP’s salary. Seems to me his qualities as a successful businessman are just what we need and if he applied it would be hard not to offer him the position. Should he become our new Chief Executive I’d be happy to give him all the goodwill and whatever support I can as I think would a lot of other townspeople.

John Rowe

Tennis Street,