Council defends ‘town clerk’ title drop

Ottery Town Council from left to right, Cllr Peter Faithfull, town clerk Christine McIntyre, Roger G

Ottery Town Council from left to right, Cllr Peter Faithfull, town clerk Christine McIntyre, Roger Giles, Stewart Lucas, Geoff Pratt, Richard Copus, Richard Grainger, Vicky Johns and Dean Stewart. Picture: Clarissa Place - Credit: Archant

Ottery Town Council released a statement explaining the change of name from ‘town clerk’ to ‘chief executive officer’.

Ottery Town Council has defended the decision following a vote to change 'town clerk' to 'chief executive officer' (CEO) after it was labelled 'farcical' and 'egotistical' by some residents.

The title change was debated at a council meeting on Monday (September 2) in a bid to update the role.

A 15-minute debate broke out as members clashed on ditching the traditional title. The item was carried by five votes to four.

Newly-titled CEO Christine McIntyre has responded to the criticism by outlining her role and why councillors suggested the name change.

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She said it was 'disheartening and depressing' to read some of the comments about it and urged it was not an 'ego trip'.

At Monday's meeting, Mrs McIntyre said the change of name would attract a different calibre of candidate as many may not understand the term unless in the sector. She added a number of councils had adopted CEO or other titles in an attempt to modernise the position as not just a note taker.

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Mrs McIntyre said: "A number of councillors who were well aware of what my job involved were of the view that the title `town clerk` really didn't adequately reflect my role and responsibilities and also that the title was out of date.

"They made representations accordingly and I am grateful for their recognition and understanding in the matter.

"The responsibilities of a clerk, in most cases; have changed beyond all recognition to that of even 10 years ago.

"Thus, the new council is simply trying to be more forward thinking and progressive and therefore most, not all, councillors supported the change of name.

"I am not receiving any additional remuneration and I will not be seeking any in the future for the change of name. It is simply a name change, not a change in role."

As well as administrative jobs, the CEO is the council's responsible financial officer and works with the chairman of finances to ensure budgets are met, managed and compliant with financial regulations.

She, and two part time members of staff, manage the town's property portfolio, which is the largest in East Devon, worth approximately £2million. The team also organise repair work and draft documents.

At the meeting the council also voted to change the title of 'assistant town clerk' to 'executive officer'.

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