Cheshire East Council appoints new chief executive


Cheshire East Council has appointed Rob Polkinghorne as its new permanent chief executive.

The decision was taken at the meeting of full council today (Wednesday 13 December).

Mr Polkinghorne began his career in local government in 1996. He held various roles focusing on regeneration and environmental projects, subsequently transitioning to strategic planning, policy formulation, performance management and organisational transformation. Mr Polkinghorne has worked in unitary, county, borough and district councils, covering both urban and rural areas.

Beyond local government, he assumed leadership roles in the fire and rescue service and the NHS before securing the post of chief operating officer at Aberdeen City Council and then becoming chief executive at Southend City Council in October 2022 before stepping down after just eight months in the role.

Mr Polkinghorne said: "I am excited to be joining Cheshire East Council. This is a time of enormous challenge for councils across the country, and Cheshire East is no exception. But it is also a time of opportunity – opportunity to do things differently and refocus. I look forward to working with councillors, staff and partners to meet those challenges and take those opportunities, to build on what we already have and ensure we can continue to deliver for Cheshire East's residents, businesses and communities."

Councillor Sam Corcoran, leader of the council, said: "I would like to welcome Rob Polkinghorne to Cheshire East.

"Appointment of a new chief executive is an important moment for any organisation, bringing refreshing new perspectives, ideas and ways of doing things. I also appreciate the importance of stability – particularly through times of change. However, no organisation should stand still, and we will be looking to Rob to bring new ideas and drive the changes we will need, now and in the future.

"Cheshire East, like many councils across the country, is experiencing an unprecedented financial challenge. To guide us through this, we already have many strengths - several of the senior officers at Cheshire East Council are now the longest serving officers in their posts and I am the longest serving leader of the council since its formation in 2009. Building on these foundations, I very much look forward to working with Rob."

Councillor Craig Browne, deputy leader of the council, said: "I too would like to welcome Rob to the council. This is an incredibly important post for the organisation and for the borough. Rob won through as the preferred candidate following a rigorous recruitment process and I'd like to thank the appointments committee, the recruitment panels and officers who were involved.

"I would also like to thank David Parr OBE who has served as interim chief executive since October, and who will continue until January, enabling an effective handover with Rob.

"Rob comes to us with a wealth of experience, and I am sure both members and officers across the organisation will offer a warm welcome and support for Rob as he gets started."

Rob Polkinghorne will start work as chief executive on 3 January 2024.