Wiltshire Council chief executive Andrew Kerr was ousted from his job today by council leader Jane Scott who declared – “the buck stops with me”.

Mr Kerr will be made redundant along with one of four corporate directors in a bid to save £1.4m from the council’s cash-strapped budget.

Cllr Scott said that she will assume ultimate responsibility for the council’s decisions, even when they go wrong.

She said: “The buck stops with me. That’s the reality of it.

“This is an organisation which is led by politicians, not by officers, and that is what we are talking about here.”

Cllr Scott and her Conservative cabinet members came under fire for appointing a chief executive in January 2010 on a permanent contract, who was axed just 18 months later, but the council’s leader said she did not want such a post in the first place. She said: “There has been a lot of talk about why we took on a chief executive in the first place. I didn’t want to pay out for such a post in particular but my hands were tied by the DCLG [Department for Communities and Local Government] transitional arrangements to enable us to move to one authority.”

Cllr Jon Hubbard, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: “Only in February Jane Scott defended Andrew Kerr’s £183,000 salary and said how important he was to the council. Just six months later she is disposing of him. If he was worth it then, then what has changed since?”

A £4m budget has been set aside to pay out for redundancies, which will include Mr Kerr’s, but the exact amount he will receive will remain secret until the end of the year.

The four corporate directors – Mark Boden, Carlton Brand, Carolyn Godfrey and Sue Redmond - declined an invitation to attend the meeting on Thursday at which the decision was made, while Mr Kerr was working away in London.

The four directors will now have to fight for just three jobs, but they have been told they will not receive any extra money for taking on the extra responsibilities that will be attached to the new positions.

There is speculation that Mr Kerr, 53, may be eyeing up the post of chief executive at Bath and North East Somserset Council (BANES) after that council decided it could not take the risk of getting rid of its chief.

Mr Kerr has already indicated that if the axe fell on his job, he would want to depart the council quickly.