When the Going Gets Tough

Who is the new s151 officer for Somerset County Council?

Sheila Collins, as her LinkedIn CV shows, comes from Surrey County Council where she was the s151 Officer. She had been with them since 2007.

Is she the sort of person that likes to get stuck into council finances when things are getting tough, as they clearly are in Somerset right now.

Er no.

When in July 2018 Surrey County Council faced an overspend of £11.8m overspend on its 2018–19 budget Sheila Little, as she then was, simply walked out.

A statement from the council explained: “We’ve embarked upon a comprehensive transformation programme to deliver the best outcomes for our residents, and this is requiring a new approach across the county council. Sheila Little has decided that this is a good time for her to pursue other opportunities and we wish her well with these.”

This is not a ringing endorsement of the person brought in to try and stabilise the finances at Somerset County Council.

No doubt Somerset County Council considered this, but it begs a question over why the recruitment process was stopped for a full time s151 officer for Somerset? Were there no other candidates?

In the meantime those with longer memories may recall the debacle of Sheila Wheeler’s tenure as CEO of Somerset County Council. For now we can only hope history is not about to repeat itself.


sheila collins

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