Two Devon councils are looking to create a Senior Leadership structure that focuses on good customer service and takes an active part in the public service agenda for Devon.

The logos of South Hams District Council and West Devon Borough Council arranged side by side

In the next two weeks, councillors at South Hams District and West Devon Borough Councils will be discussing a proposed new management structure for their Senior Leadership Team. The new management structure will reflect recent changes made to how the Councils work.

The opportunity to make these changes has arisen thanks to a number of factors, including a new elected leadership.

These changes present the Councils with an opportunity to rethink how the top tier of management (which has already been reduced from seven posts as appointed in 2015, to five now) can be further adapted to reflect the new Councils' aspirations for the future.

The proposal changes the focus of three of the senior roles.  One Director would now focus on the delivery of all Council services; one would focus on place shaping and enterprise, supporting our towns and villages, and one would support governance and compliance.

The Chief Executive and Finance roles would largely remain unchanged.

Sophie Hosking Chief Executive, of both councils who has been shaping this piece of work on behalf of the Council Leaders said: "Now our transformation programme is complete, the new leaders in both councils have asked me to shift the focus of our Senior Leadership Team from internal transformation to external engagement. 

Over the past 12 years, South Hams District and West Devon Borough Councils have been through many changes.  These changes have enabled them to set a balanced budget every year, despite a massive reduction in funding, while modernising the services they deliver and minimising service cuts.

It all begin back in 2007 when the two Councils led the way in local government reorganisation and appointed a shared Chief Executive. 

South Hams and West Devon now completely share one workforce, this means that almost every member of staff working for South Hams also does the same job for West Devon (with a few exceptions, such as the manual workforce). 

These changes have enabled both councils to reduce the amount of money they spend by a massive £6 million every single year.  The proposal being discussed now, could see a further combined saving every year of £120,000, and at the same time still offer their senior officers competitive salaries that reflect the going rate. 

Cllr Judy Pearce, Leader of South Hams District Council, said: "In the last 12 months we have turned a mirror on ourselves to see what next, now that our transformation programme is over.  We invited the Local Government Association to do a Peer Challenge, to help us shape our way forward. 

"Their advice was clear, we have done really well with the shared workforce and controlling our finances, now we need a review of the management structure to enable us to fulfill our ambitions - which for me is good customer service, making our services easier to access for everyone and getting a good deal for our residents.

"I would like to see the new Director of Customer Service really concentrate on driving this forward and providing good value for money."

Cllr Neil Jory, Leader of West Devon Borough Council said: "I am pleased that we are suggesting a Director of Place and Enterprise in the new structure.

"West Devon Borough Council has to be a key player in the future of Devon as a whole.  I would like to see us driving the agenda in Devon, working with our local partners to shape the places we live, and having a say on the things that affect us all.

"I know that we have the skills and talent within the organisation to make this happen.  It is highly likely that these roles will be filled internally by officers from our Extended Leadership Team.  I know some of them will step up to the challenge and take us into the future with a renewed focus." 

The Councils have considered many different factors when shaping their new management structure. They took advice from the Local Government Association; benchmarked themselves against other similar sized organisations; looked back at last year's customer satisfaction survey; took into account the uncertainty around the government's four-year finance settlement (how much money the government will give them to run services) and held a staff consultation on the new roles.

A report will be presented to Hub Committee at West Devon Borough Council on Tuesday 16 July and South Hams Executive on 18 July.  

If both councils agree to the proposals, the Chief Executive will then conduct a review of the Extended Leadership Team, the next level of management at both councils. 

It is hoped that the restructure of the Senior Leadership Team will be completed by September and the review of the Extended Leadership Team by the end of December. 

"Therefore, we have crafted these roles around what we need to do now and I believe now is the perfect time for this change." 

To read the report in full, please go to