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Rochdale And Salford Swap A Chief Executive

Can our town centres be revived? Rochdale proves a test bed

Written by . Published on April 14th 2014.

Rochdale And Salford Swap A Chief Executive

THINGS are stirring in the north and west.

The big city centres in the UK have improved hugely in the last fifteen years. It’s the turn of towns now

Rochdale Chief Executive Jim Taylor is to leave the authority and will take up a role at another Greater Manchester Authority, Salford.

Jim TaylorJim TaylorDuring his tenure at Rochdale Taylor, was responsible for overseeing a number of high-profile initiatives including the implementation of improvement strategies within Children’s Services, signing-off a £100 million deal to secure the Town Centre’s future and the completion of a new Metrolink Line and £12 million Transport Interchange

Rochdale Borough Council Leader Cllr Colin Lambert said he would be extremely sorry to see Jim Taylor leave.

 “Jim’s experience and knowledge was a real asset to the authority,” he told Confidential and he was fully committed to delivering  the world-class innovation, transformation and vision required to drive Rochdale forward. I feel strongly that his leaving is a huge loss to the town but of course we wish him the very best in his new post at Salford.”

Taylor was at the centre of row about a wage increase in 2013 for his Rochdale role. He earned £130,000 in Rochdale and will earn £150,000 in Salford.

Colin LambertColin LambertConfidential was in Rochdale recently. The Esplanade in the town centre, as Nikolaus Pevsner, the famed architectural guru stated, is superb.

 ‘Here all is completely different from Lancashire towns, and indeed all English towns,' Pesvner wrote. 'The town hall lies surrounded by public gardens on three sides and the church lies up a steep bank, and the bank is also a public garden. So the centre is green and pleasant.’

That was written in the late sixties and remains the case now.

But in the inner areas around the lovely Esplanade and in the estates on the fringe of Rochdale, the story is not so rosy, with poverty and health rates challenging at best, dreadful at worst. Then again in Bamford and other areas on the Pennine slopes there is wealth – little of which seems to be patronising the limited retail of the town centre.

Confidential will be doing a profile on Rochdale in the coming weeks, talking to people, seeing how people are working to make the town become fully functioning again, particularly in its centre.

As so many commentators have noted, the big city centres in the UK have improved hugely in the last fifteen years. It’s the turn of towns now. How can we make the centres become again what they were, a place where all levels of income might come to shop and relax? Can making people proud, building a strong sense of identity, help in this?

Rochdale in some ways is providing a test case for these ideas. Good work has been achieved under Lambert and Taylor, how can that be taken forward?

The top picture in this story shows Riverside, the new council offices, by FaulknerBrown Architects, currently shortlisted for a Royal Institute of British Architects award as the best new building in the NW.

Rochdale Town HallRochdale Town Hall

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13 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousApril 14th 2014.

£150 grand??? Greater Manchester local council chief executives, Greater Manchester Crime Commissioner & his deputies etc etc - it's all one big champagne socialist merry-go-round isn't it? Vote Labour and "get" jobs for the boys, big wages, unfettered greed and due to low voter turnout & apathy - an arrogant air of political unaccountability!

JoanApril 14th 2014.

I think that Local Authority Chief Execs earn salaries at this level, regardless of the political complexion of the council. The Chief Exec of Surrey County Council, not I believe a Labour stronghold, earns around £210,000, and is to be paid a £100,00 bonus in 2018, provided certain performance targets are met.

8 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 14th 2014.

Good......do our Chief Execs have any performance targets?

DavidApril 14th 2014.

Always make sure your pay is compared to the highest comparable profession you can find,make sure the performance targets are set by like minded people and hence easily met,tell everyone there is vast competition for the role so you need high pay to retain top talent.I am sure Leese and Bernstein would like to persuade us their is international competition for their talents and they need to rewarded as such. Also we heard a lot about the excesses of top executives in banking,from the public sector complaining about cutbacks.But they are just as bad when they get the opportunity to reward themselves well.The worst excesses now are university vice chancellors.

JoanApril 14th 2014.

David. I suggest you start by finding out the difference between a Council Leader and a Chief Exec. There's a difference in how they get the role, how they might lose the role, and the remuneration they receive. All this is easily researchable on the internet. I'm not sure why you ignored my point, though. I was questioning your point that the pay levels of LA Chief Execs was a Labour issue by providing you with evidence to the contrary.

DavidApril 14th 2014.

I perfectly well know the difference between the two and that Leese would never would have got such a salary or position on his own merits.Party membership rather than talent is the key to climbing to the top in Manchester as you very well know Joan.If you look at the people who might succeed him it's even more depressing.If you want talent you don't look at the upper ranks of the Labour council.

AnonymousApril 14th 2014.

Either way I'll take it there are no targets.

AnonymousApril 14th 2014.

David is completely confused. The article is about a Chief exec, ie the most senior employee of a council NOT the elected leader who is a politician and therefore not an employee. The responsibilities, means of recruitment and remuneration of the two roles are completely different. Is that not obvious to most people? Not for the first time this "David" ranter has made a bit of a fool of himself.

AnonymousApril 14th 2014.

Never mind Surrey Council Joan, it was the Labour Party, not the Tories, who always use to make such a big brouhaha about "FAT CAT" wages. We found out post 1997 though didn't we, just what a bunch of greedy champagne socialist hypocrites, Labour politicians really are.

AnonymousApril 14th 2014.

How do you know what political persuasion any of our Council's chief execs are Anon? Howie B is rumoured to be a Tory sympathiser anyway. Not sure about the rest...

AnonymousApril 14th 2014.

Chief exec pay is set, essentially, by the private sector. In fact a recent piece in The Independent pointed out that roles with similar levels of skill and responsibility are generally much better paid in the private sector at the top end. Arguably the role of a senior public servant is somewhat more complex, having to deal with a much broader set of outcomes than profit alone. There are trade offs on the upside of course. But the point remains that public sector executive pay cannot be reformed without similar reform in the private sector too.

Mark FullerApril 14th 2014.

Restoring civic pride is key. Rochdale clearly possessed this attribute in spades until quite recently. The magnificent neo gothic town hall is testament to that. I also love the atmospheric stairway leading up through beautiful gardens to the 12th century St. Chads Church. However, the town has become unsure of it's identity and purpose in recent times. The Rochdale area has a large population of around 250,000, but many of these are spending their money in Manchester and Bury. Long awaited town centre regeneration is underway, hopefully the locals will re-connect with their town once again. Also key in my view, is nurturing and encouraging independent small businesses in the town centre.

1 Response: Reply To This...
DavidApril 14th 2014.

Manchester is in very real danger of pricing itself out of people's options when they consider a bit of shopping or a spot of lunch.If you have to pay £4 each for a 15 minute train journey you do start to seriously question whether you could not try and find what you want more locally.This could provide an opportunity for the likes of Rochdale and Bolton to fight back and take business back from Manchester.

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