Gerald Meehan Cwac

CWAC on the hunt for chief executive

Cheshire West & Chester Council has started its search for an officer to replace the retiring Gerald Meehan, capping a year of change for top council positions in the region.

Cllr Samantha Dixon, CWAC leader, said: “The new chief executive must get the balance right between a strategic approach and a focus on outcomes.

“They will be expected to have a proven track record of senior leadership within a local government context, strong political acumen, the capacity to connect with staff at all levels and the ability to bring creativity to our decision making.

“They must be fully committed to improving the life chances of all our communities and to making Cheshire West & Chester a place where everyone counts and thrives.”

Since Joanne Roney took over from Sir Howard Bernstein at Manchester City Council last April, there has been a succession of local authority chief executives departing, retiring or being removed from duties.

In April 2017, Cheshire East boss Mike Suarez was suspended, followed by two other senior officers, while Liverpool City Council’s senior officer Ged Fitzgerald stepped away from his duties in May, following his arrest as part of a police investigation into One Connect – he was suspended in September.

Pam Smith left Burnley to become chief executive of Stockport Council in May 2017, following the departure of Eamonn Boylan to the new position of chief executive of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. Former chief operating officer Mick Cartledge was appointed in her stead in August.

In June, Mike Smith, who had been suspended, resigned from his post as chief executive of Bury Council, with his duties being picked up by interim chief executive Pat Jones-Greenhalgh.

At Lancashire County Council, chief executive Jo Turton was given compulsory redundancy in October as part of a reorganisation that has seen Angie Ridgwell arrive from central government on a 12-month contract as interim boss.

Also in October, Tony Oakman started a handover process with Margaret Asquith at Bolton, from whom he is taking over this month as Asquith retires.

Along with CWAC, Preston City Council is also in the market for a new chief executive, after Lorraine Norris announced her intention in February to leave following nine years in the position.

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