Councillors have voted to the delete the role of chief executive at its council.

Conservative councillors voted in favour of the move to remove the role at Hertsmere Borough Council last night but opposition leader Cllr Jeremy Newmark described it as a "political execution".

The CEO role was held by Donald Graham - Hertsmere's longest serving CEO in the borough's history, and also the highest paid CEO in Hertfordshire, earning £154,000 a year - further costs, including pension, actually brought Mr Graham’s total pay packet per year to £220,000c according to council leader Morris Bright.

He had been on sick leave since late June.

Cllr Bright, says the council has had to look at ways it can make savings and this included revising the management structure at the very top.

Cllr Bright said: "Given the financial challenges facing all local authorities, it is entirely natural that the administration would keep a weather eye on the cost of our top management structure. "Greater savings can be made through efficiencies in the most expensive posts in the authority rather than ‘salami slicing’ the jobs or pay of more junior posts.

"On a personal note Donald Graham is the longest serving chief executive in Hertsmere's history and we’ve always worked closely together throughout that time for the good of the borough.

"Through his leadership, we have a successful and resilient organisation and he’s earned the respect of elected members, his staff and his peers across Hertfordshire.

"I want to thank him for his hard work and commitment during his 11 years with the authority, and wish him well for the future."

Tory councillor Paul Hodgson-Jones said the council had ended up with a "top-heavy structure" and the deletion was "overdue and not premature".

Labour councillor Richard Butler said he fears deleting the role will put "too much strain" on council officers.

At yesterday's full council meeting, Labour leader Cllr Newmark referred to an audit report which Mr Graham commissioned into the governance of Elstree Studios, which was officially published on July 22 this year.

The report implicated both Cllr Bright, who is chairman of the studios, and his Tory party.

Read more: Leaked audit reveals weaknesses in controls at Elstree Studios

Cllr Newmark said: "This is a political execution. I want to see when we will see these financial savings and I also want evidence of when talks with the local government association (LGA) began."

A report which outlined proposals to scrap the CEO role said that Cllr Bright had received advice from the LGA on a "more cost effective model" at the top of the council.

The Tories voted in favour of the proposal, Labour voted against, and the Liberal Democrats abstained.