Cheshire East Council appoints new chief executive

Lorraine O'Donnell 2

Cheshire East Council has formally appointed Lorraine O'Donnell as chief executive on a salary of £151,000.

Lorraine O'Donnell has in excess of 25 years' experience working in local authorities. Her most recent position was director of transformation and partnerships at Durham County Council. Lorraine was part of the corporate management team at Durham that led the council through Local Government Reorganisation and on to become council of the year in 2014.

Councillor Sam Corcoran, leader of Cheshire East Council, said: "I would like to welcome Lorraine to Cheshire East Council and look forward to welcoming her to our beautiful borough.

"Lorraine brings valuable experience, skills and new perspectives that will help us to transform the council and continue to deliver for our residents.

"We have an ambitious programme ahead to improve the environment, economy, health outcomes and opportunities for everyone in Cheshire East and I am sure that Lorraine will help us in delivering that."

Councillor Craig Browne, deputy leader of the council, said: "Cheshire East, as a borough and as a council, has enormous potential and I look forward to working with Lorraine to achieve that potential. Lorraine will play a vital role in leading the council's staff and in building on our relationships with key partners in business, health and other public services.

"We have a high-performing economy and want to ensure we have a high-performing council to match."

Lorraine said: "I am delighted to be joining Cheshire East Council as chief executive. This is a really exciting time to be joining the council and I am looking forward to working with elected members, staff and partners to serve residents and communities."

Lorraine O'Donnell will start work at the council on 30th March.

The council has appointed Frank Jordan, its executive director for place and deputy chief executive, as acting chief executive to cover the period following Kath O'Dwyer's departure from the council, from 9th March until 29th March.

Kath O'Dwyer was appointed acting chief executive in 2017 following the suspension of Mike Suarez after concerns were raised his conduct. She is relocating to take over as chief executive of St Helens Council.

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Cheshire East Council
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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Alan Brough
Monday 24th February 2020 at 6:17 pm
It’s said that her salary will be in the order of £170k per year.

Difficult to justify a public sector salary like that in these straightened times - I do hope she’s better than some of her high ranking predecessors.
Jon Williams
Monday 24th February 2020 at 7:05 pm
What £170k !!!!!!!!!!!
Cheshire East thats insane
Graham Morgan
Monday 24th February 2020 at 7:31 pm
Some folk are complaining about her salary, but most chief execs that I know earn many multiples of £170K pa. She is helping run a very complex organisation with a budget that runs into hundreds of millions. I would rather pay more for a competent individual who can deliver the real change that we all crave for.
Kathryn Blackburn
Tuesday 25th February 2020 at 8:41 am
PM is not on much more than this! FGS. He's running the country.
Andy Brown
Tuesday 25th February 2020 at 11:33 am
Most chief execs earning £170k have share holders to answer to.

Whereas in Cheshire East the concerns of the council taxpayer are largely ignored.
Tony Haluradivth
Tuesday 25th February 2020 at 12:53 pm
Well Graham they are ALL overpaid then.
She should NOT be paid more than the PM....there is no justification I am afraid
Barry Buxton
Tuesday 25th February 2020 at 3:20 pm
Somewhat disappointing that her first public statement to us stakeholders was simply, and no more than, the trite "delighted to be joining" and it's a "really exciting time to be joining" and "looking forward to working with .....to serve ..."
For £151,000 pa I would expect something more inspiring and meaningful, not to mention that it would be nice to get an indication as to when we can expect to get some of her vision and strategic intent.
Duncan Herald
Tuesday 25th February 2020 at 3:56 pm
Does anyone know who was on the selection panel?
Raymond James Wallace
Tuesday 25th February 2020 at 5:12 pm
I didn’t think Cheshire East could sink much lower, the parkings a shambles, the flooding is horrendous, the roads are full of pot-holes and the general maintenance is non existent. No doubt Lorraine, isn’t the only executive to be on this obscene type of salary, when people are struggling to cope, let’s hope she warrants this type of salary by helping to put right all the above. Don’t hold your breath.
Kathryn Blackburn
Wednesday 26th February 2020 at 12:14 pm
Judging by an article written in the Northern Echo December 6th 2019, regarding the job done there by her, the Durham voters were left singularly unimpressed.
Redundancy taken in one county off to score in another.
No don't hold your breath.
Craig Browne
Wednesday 26th February 2020 at 1:20 pm
Dear all,

To address some of the comments made above: the new administration at CEC decided to REDUCE the advertised salary for the Chief Executive position down to £151,000 (this was confirmed by a meeting of full council on 20th February - http://moderngov.cheshireeast.gov.uk/ecminutes/documents/s74663/Report.pdf). This salary puts Cheshire East very much at the lower end of the market as compared with other local authorities and it is perhaps worth noting that of the (approx) 20 applications we received, none were from people who had already held a Chief Executive position within another authority and all were "step-up" candidates.

The process for recruiting the Chief Executive was rigorous and included psychometric testing and technical interviews carried out by a specialist recruitment agency; interviews with a "partner panel" comprising representatives of Cheshire Police, Cheshire Fire & Rescue and Cheshire & Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership; interviews with an "officer panel" comprising staff members from CEC; and a cross-party Staffing Committee comprising Council members including the leaders of the various political groups.

At the end of this process, I am confident that we have recruited an excellent candidate in Lorraine. She is a very experienced leader and in her previous role formed strong partnerships with outside agencies, as well as managing the formation of a number of successful Area Action Partnerships. Her referees describe her as a completer-finisher, with very strong programme management skills and someone who is exceptionally hard working, who will role-model positive behaviour across the Council.

As Lorraine will be relocating from County Durham to Cheshire East, I felt it my duty to advise her that Alderley Edge is of course the best place to live ;-) As she is a keen tennis player, I was also able to highlight our excellent local club facilities in the village. I look forward to welcoming her to the borough and to working with her at Cheshire East Council.

Kind regards,
Craig
Tony Haluradivth
Wednesday 26th February 2020 at 7:17 pm
Hmm the proof will be in the pudding on Ms O ' Donnell as the residents of Durham mounted a Court Case against the Council last year
https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1085286/councils-millions-taxpayers-money-deluxe-town-halls. I really hope this isn't that CEO ,"revolving door" again
Duncan Herald
Wednesday 4th March 2020 at 5:07 pm
To conflate two of the 'busier' entries on this venerable organ: might the new Chief xeutive care to up-date us on the flooding investigation which seemingly has still not taked place.
Come on Ms O'Donnell, here's your chance to impress us with your handling of a problem at the start of your job.

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