Planning director switches to private sector as the council seeks savings

    The Borough Council’s Director of Planning and Development Jonathan MacDonald, will be leaving the Council at the end of this month, just before the new financial year begins.

    It’s understood that he will be moving into the private sector as a consultant.

    Mr MacDonald joined the Council in 2010 and was in charge of a wide range of departments including planning, property, environmental services and economic development. He oversaw a number of projects and initiatives including a £14m asset disposal programme and improvements to infrastructure and the street scene.

    Cllr David Jukes, Leader of the Council said: Jonathan has delivered a number of important priority projects and worked well with councillors, staff and partners alike in often controversial areas such as planning and major regeneration projects.

    The news comes as a result of the council facing significant challenges in terms of its revenue budget. It has lost its complete government grant of over £4.6 million over the past six years but still aims to deliver a new theatre, office accommodation and additional car parking for the town.

    Mr MacDonald’s departure from the senior Management Board which goes from three directors to two, will, according to a council spokesperson ‘deliver a significant contribution to the savings required.’ It is estimated that £120,000 will be saved per annum.

    William Benson, Chief Executive commented: “As director and deputy chief executive, Jonathan has helped the council navigate some significant corporate challenges – particularly in the areas of planning, property and regeneration – we wish him well for the future.

    While the Council has a large number of projects in train, it has invested additional resources in its property department and has established a Programme Management Office to oversee these projects. Responsibilities for service delivery and project oversight will pass to the Council’s remaining two directors.

    Planning and Property will move to Lee Colyer, Director of Finance while Policy and Development and responsibility for Environmental Services and Environmental Health will go to Paul Taylor, Director of Change and Communities.

    Mr MacDonald said: I have enormously enjoyed my time at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council – it is an ambitious council with some incredibly dedicated and hardworking staff and councillors. I will miss working with them but believe it is time to explore new challenges.”