I have just spent two days as a member of the panel selecting the new Chief Executive for Cornwall Council. The appointment of the Chief Executive is a political hot potato and I am sure that played some part in me being singled out to chair the panel. But councillors are here to make decisions and I will not duck my responsibilities.
The new Chief Executive is Andrew Kerr, the Chief Operating Officer at Cardiff City Council. Prior to that he was Chief Executive at Wiltshire Council until the (Conservative) leader decided that she did not need a chief executive at all - an idea which has been rejected by Cornwall Council. Prior to that he was the Chief Executive at North Tyneside Council.
I know that many people feel that we ought to be able to find a Cornish person to do this job. But, even if it were legal to discriminate in favour of a suitable Cornish candidate, I think that, in facing the enormous financial challenges ahead of us, having a very experienced Chief Executive will benefit us.
I also think that with a mixed bag political coalition in charge of Cornwall, with no clear agenda, the Council cannot manage without a Chief Executive.
The most important factor is to act promptly in order to safeguard Council services as best we can.
I think that Andrew's approach will be persuasive rather than confrontational and I hope that he can start on the job as quickly as possible. I understand that he is not immediately going to move his family here because he has children at critical schooling ages. That is an entirely personal matter.
I am pleased that his salary will be about 20 per cent less than that paid to Kevin Lavery. Still a lot of money I am afraid, but we have managed to take advantage of the market drop in salary levels for chief executives.I wish Mr. Kerr the very best of luck.