Harry Catherall And Cllr Arooj Shah, Oldham Council, P Oldham Council
Harry Catherall and Oldham Council leader Arooj Shah. Credit: via Oldham Council

Oldham to appoint interim chief executive

Julia Hatmaker

Pending final approval, Harry Catherall will assume the role on 26 August. He is the former chief executive of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, having retired from the position in 2019.

Catherall has worked in local government for 40 years, including as interim chief executive for St Helens Council earlier this year. Achievements include reducing spending in Blackburn by 40% and the creation of a council-wide delivery plan for St Helens. During his time at Blackburn, the borough won the MJ Awards’ Local Authority of the Year title.

Oldham Council’s appointment committee has unanimously recommended Catherall for the position. But before he can officially begin, his hiring must be voted on by an extraordinary meeting of the council on 25 August. Approval is expected.

“It’s great to be able to recommend Harry for appointment and I look forward to welcoming him to the team,” said council leader Arooj Shah. “I have been clear that what Oldham Council needed in a chief executive is someone with drive, determination and a real commitment to delivering great public services for local people.”

“I have set a clear future direction and set of priorities for the role and it’s clear from the recruitment process to date that Harry is the right person to deliver that vision,” she continued.

“His focus in his new role will be to forge stronger relationships between local people and their public services and to steer Oldham’s recovery from the impact of the Covid pandemic including, crucially, driving forward the regeneration and renewal of our town and district centres.”

Cllr Howard Sykes, a Liberal Democrat and leader of the opposition, also recommended Catherall’s appointment.

“He [has] clearly demonstrated that he has the skills and experience needed to drive real improvement to the vital services that Oldham people value and rely on,” Sykes said. “I look forward to working with him.”

Catherall would continue in the interim role while Oldham Council recruits a permanent successor to Carolyn Wilkins, whose departure from the chief executive role was confirmed in July.

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Excellent appointment

By George