County’s new Chief Exec faces making budget cuts

Photo: New Chief Executive of Hampshire County Council Carolyn Williamson. Courtesy of the county council.

 Chief Correspondent Rob Thomas

Hampshire County Council’s new chief executive has been named and – subject to being formally elected by councillors – will switch chairs from her current role as deputy chief executive later this summer.

But Carolyn Williamson will immediately face the task of cutting £80 million from the council’s expenditure and to help achieve that, Hampshire residents are being asked for their views on setting the priorities.

She is the unanimous recommendation of the appointment panel after a process which attracted 30 applications from which a short list of four were interviewed.

Before becoming deputy chief executive of the council in 2017, Carolyn Williamson had extensive experience in local government and the NHS. In 1991, she qualified in CIPFA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy), and has been a Member of CIPFA Council since 2013 – in 2019/20, she was President of CIPFA.

The chief executive is responsible, through the leader of the council Councillor Keith Mans, for an annual budget of £2 billion to provide services for the county’s 1.4 million residents – this excludes Portsmouth and Southampton which are separate unitary authorities.

And the county council has decided the residents should have their say as it faces trying to balance the books.

Council Leader Keith Mans said: “the absence of a multi-year funding settlement from the Government means that we continue to face a budget shortfall of at least £80 million over the next two years (2022/23 and 2023/24) … This requires us to make more tough decisions about what the county council can and cannot provide in future.”

Hampshire residents have until 11.59pm on Sunday, July 18, to express their views on a range of options, such as introducing and increasing charges for some services, using the council’s reserves, and raising Council Tax.

Interestingly, the options also include ‘changing local government arrangements in Hampshire’.

Further information is available.

Paper copies can be requested by emailing insight@hants.gov.uk or calling 0300 555 1375, and the consultation documents are also available from local Hampshire libraries.