Council chief's confusion over new job

A SENIOR council official doesn't seem to know whether she's staying or going.

The Gazette revealed last week that Amanda Skelton was quitting as executive director for neighbourhood services with South Tyneside Council to take up the post of chief executive at another council.

But after seeing the article, the 46-year-old fired off an e-mail to councillors saying she had not yet resigned and, when she did, they would be "the first to hear."

She said it would be presumptuous to make any statement before a council meeting today at which her new appointment was expected to be rubber-stamped.

But that e-mail was sent hours after her new employer, Redcar and Cleveland Council, had issued a Press release welcoming her on board.

Ms Skelton was quoted in the Press release as saying: "I am looking forward to working with people in the borough to provide the kind of services they want to see and help them to build a happy, prosperous community."

Ms Skelton's actions have been branded unprofessional by two disgruntled South Tyneside councillors.

Coun David Potts, representing the Cleadon and East Boldon ward, said: "As an elected representative, I find it insulting to have to read of the departure of a key council officer on the front page of a newspaper.

"It's all very well to circulate an apologetic e-mail after the event, but I'm afraid the damage is done."

Coun Steve Harrison, ward member for Fellgate and Hedworth, added: "I think it was unprofessional to promise members they'd be the first to know, when it had already been announced earlier the same day.

"I know the decision has to be passed by Redcar and Cleveland's full council, but it's just a case of rubber-stamping her appointment, so I've no idea why members weren't told sooner."

The Gazette revealed last Thursday that Ms Skelton was set to leave.

The following day, in an internal e-mail to council members, timed at 3.54pm, she wrote: "You may have read an article in the Gazette last night about cabinet being informed that I am leaving South Tyneside.

"I just wanted to set the record straight. I have not resigned, and there has been no official announcement.

"I have provisionally been offered the post of chief executive at another council. This needs to be agreed by a special meeting of their council next Friday.

"I am sure you will appreciate that it would be presumptuous to make any statement before the council meeting.

"Please can I assure you that as soon as I am in a position to inform people officially, members will be the first to hear."

Yet earlier that day, a statement was released by her future employer in which she said: "I am delighted to be joining the team in Redcar and Cleveland."

The statement was accompanied by a Press release featuring a message from Coun George Dunning, council leader in her new patch.

He said: "I am delighted to welcome Amanda to Redcar and Cleveland.

"Amanda has an excellent track record, and I am sure she will be a credit not only to our borough but to the Tees Valley and the north east as a whole."

Ms Skelton, whose appointment was set to be formally ratified at a full council meeting at noon today, is expected to start work in her new role next year.

A spokesman for Redcar and Cleveland Council confirmed that the Press release was issued at 10.25am on Friday and sent to newspapers and media outlets across the region.

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council declined to comment.