It's inevitable as austerity continues to tighten the noose , there will be the risk of increasing conflict between officers and members when it comes to spending and income generation activity.
Of course the vast majority of members and officers always behave in a professional manner and recognise their combined stewardship of public funds. No two situations are alike and there will be times where democratic mandates should come to the fore but statutory officers have statutory duties for a good reason and must be free to exercise them in accordance with their professional judgement.
If a section 151 officer feels they have to issue a section 114 notice , that's doing their job, nothing more and nothing less. Professional advice is given based on years of experience and should be heeded not discarded. It's the road to bankruptcy if isn't.
Seven years into austerity and with councils having to make increasingly unpalatable choices about where to direct limited resources, good governance has never been more important. Central to this is the relationship between council leaders and their chief executives. Writing for LGC this week, Local Government Association chief executive Mark Lloyd sparked a debate on at what point professional expertise should bow to democratic legitimacy. Politicians have a right to ignore officers’ advice, Mr Lloyd states, and if their subsequent course of action jars with a chief executive’s moral or ethical framework, provided it is not illegal, they should consider brushing up their CV and moving on. Not everyone in the sector agrees with this approach, as demonstrated by events in Lancashire CC this and section 151 officer role in a paper to cabinet