QUESTIONS have been asked about the need to replace the top official at the Forest Council with a chief executive potentially on a six-figure salary.

Peter Williams, who is head of paid service, is due to retire next March.

The administration at Coleford wants to replace him with a chief executive who would receive up to £110,000 a year.

The council is also looking to spend £25,250 on recruitment consultants to find the right person for the job.

Some councillors questioned the need for a full-time chief executive as most of the council’s staff are employed by Publica, an organisation which delivers services for the Forest and three other Gloucestershire councils.

Leader of the council Cllr Tim Gwilliam said discussions had taken place with other group leaders about how to replace the departing head of paid service.

But Cllr Brian Robinson (Ind, (I, Longhope and Huntley) said the council has not had a chief executive since 2019 and questioned the need for one.

He said: “The case is yet to be made as to why we now need a chief executive.

“The only part I’ve had explained to me is that other councils have them and therefore we should.

‘‘It doesn’t really stack up.

“The obligation seems to be to manage two other people because there are only two other staff directly employed by the Forest of Dean. All other staff are employed by Publica which has a managing director.

“Why do we need a chief executive to fulfil the role of technically managing two other members of staff?”

Cllr Thom Forester (Independent Alliance, Mitcheldean, Ruardean and Drybrook) suggested the head of paid services role could be fulfilled by another officer.

HR manager Julie McCarthy told the meeting the role would do more than manage the two directly employed staff.

She said the new chief executive would hold Publica to account to ensure they deliver services as well as being an “ambassador” role.

Cllr Sid Phelps (Green, Lydbrook) asked if the leader thought it was insensitive to inflate the status of the position with a salary of up to £110,000 during a time when many people are struggling with the cost of living crisis.

Cllr Gwilliam (Independent Progressives, Berry Hill): said: “I don’t think it is insensitive. It is in line with what other councils are paying their head of paid services or chief executives.

“I’m more interested in getting the correct person to replace Peter. There has to be an attractive salary to do that.”

The council voted to proceed with recruiting a chief executive by 23-12 against.