Highland Council is to begin recruitment for a depute chief executive after councillors agreed a slimmer top tier of senior management.
The council says the post will support chief executive Donna Manson with strategic leadership and direction on major initiatives and strategies linked to recovery, transformation, commercialisation, organisational change, and redesign, including strategic workforce planning, innovation, and research.
The new senior management structure will save more than £100,000 by removing a post from the original structure agreed by Council in 2019.
Overall, the restructure will release savings of £500,000.
The councillors voted overwhelmingly in favour of the revised structure, but some expressed reservations.
The depute chief executive’s post has remained vacant since the retirement of its previous incumbent in 2019.
Tory opposition leader councillor Andrew Jarvie said the decision was rushed, with many unknowns.
He said: “In 2019 we were going to reduce from 17 top posts to 10, and now we’re told going from 17 to 15 is going to save us £500,000.
“It doesn’t add up.”
HIs amendment asking for a members’ seminar, and more work on the matter allowing the decision to be more transparent, fell by 42 votes to 10, with four abstentions.
Caithness councillor Willie Mackay said he was not voting with the administration for the first time in 14 years.
He said: “Not one of my constituents will accept the need for a depute chief executive on £122,000, with eight well-salaried executive chief officers, 17 heads of service and staff, plus area managers and ward managers.
“They have only one concern on their minds right now and that is the dire situation of the roads, and I’m out there every day defending the Caithness roads team.
“It’s about principles, the principles of the council which starts with the constituents who voted us in in 2017.”
But many councillors expressed their support for the current senior leadership, praising them for the strengthened financial position in which the council now finds itself.
Depute leader, councillor Alasdair Christie said: “This is an extremely important post which will play a key role in taking the council forward at this crucial time as we all start to exit from one of the worst years in living memory.
“It is an exciting time for a senior leader to join the Highland Council, providing strategic vision and with a focus on transformation and embedding a culture of continuous improvement.
“This is also enabling us through re-structure to save £500,000 in the process.”