Breaking news: Barking and Dagenham to share leadership with Thurrock Council

Barking and Dagenham has joined forces with Essex-based Thurrock Council and will share its chief executive for the foreseeable future following the departure of current head Stella Maznie.

The move makes Barking and Dagenham the first authority in London to link up its leadership with a council outside of the capital.

It follows the sudden departure of Ms Manzie, who leaves after the Olympics. The council said it is hoping to make “huge savings” through the move, which is presently on an interim basis.

Labour-led Thurrock Council’s chief executive Graham Farrant is not unfamiliar with Barking and Dagenham as he held the top job on the council between 2000 and 2004.

The news comes just hours after the announcement of Ms Manzie’s departure earlier today.

Cllr Liam Smith, leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, stressed the financial benefits of the decision.

He said: “This is an opportunity that we simply cannot afford to ignore. Here, we’re going to have to make massive savings next year - and we’ve come to a point where front line services are going to be hit.

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“But a deal like this, should it come off, opens the way to make huge savings in our overheads and management costs, taking the pressure off the services that local people want and need.”

He added that Mr Farrant was “ideal” for such an arrangement, adding that the former Barking and Dagenham chief executive knew the area well and understood “the issues we face”.

Islington and Camden councils became the first two London boroughs to announce their intention to share a chief executive in 2010 but the plans were later abandoned.

The London Boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea have been sharing a chief executive since 2011.