‘I want to spend more time with my children’

Departing Dacorum Borough Council chief executive Daniel Zammit.
Departing Dacorum Borough Council chief executive Daniel Zammit.

The man in the hot seat at Dacorum Borough Council has decided to take early retirement.

Chief executive Daniel Zammit says he wants to spend more time with his children – Amelia, nine, and Oliver, seven – after a battle for survival when he fell ill two years ago made him re-evaluate his life.

“You realise that family is the important thing, particularly when you have young children,” said the married 58-year-old.

“I would like to be able to spend summers with the kids because they only grow up once, and the health scare I had just makes me value them even more than before.”

Mr Zammit, who has been in the post for nine years, expects to leave in October on the grounds of efficiency, subject to his departure being approved by cabinet next week.

He will not be leaving with a golden handshake and has not requested redundancy, added years or enhancements to his pension – in fact it is expected that his departure will save the organisation money.

Mr Zammit said: “We have got to the point where we are coming up with ever more innovative ways of reducing expenditure and it is becoming more and more difficult.

“When you are looking at that you can’t help but look at your own position.”

It is expected that his post will be filled internally, which will save £120,000 in the first year.

But before he bids farewell there are a few things he would like to get tied up.

“I would like to say that we have signed an agreement with Morrisons and the college and we have got a deadline for decanting from this building,” he said.

He lists one of his biggest challenges while being in office as the Buncefield disaster in 2005 and putting a plan into action to ensure businesses returned to the town after the clean-up operation.

He said: “It was quite clear that if we didn’t offer any support to the businesses their temporary relocation could lead to permanent relocation.”

Other challenges include dealing with budget cutbacks whilst protecting frontline services and instilling confidence in the local authority

When Mr Zammit joined the organisation there were 1,400 staff, today there are 800. He said: “I think we owe it to the taxpayer to be as efficient as we possibly can and despite the difficulties associated with successive cuts we have managed to achieve them without adversely effecting services.”

The chief executive is not leaving work behind him and hopes to go back to his roots in the voluntary sector.