THE acting chief executive at Cheshire East Council, who was due to be made permanent next Thursday, is taking on a new role in St Helens.

Candidates for the permanent chief executive position were interviewed by CEC’s staffing committee in November.

Kath O’Dwyer was selected as the preferred candidate and was due to be voted in as CEC’s chief executive at next Thursday’s full council meeting in Macclesfield.

But she is now set to be voted in by St Helens Council members as their chief executive next Monday following a successful interview on Tuesday.

Cllr David Baines, leader of St Helens Council, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “This is an extremely exciting time for St Helens Council, and subject to ratification on Monday night I’m looking forward to working with Kath to deliver on our priorities for the borough.”

Knutsford Guardian:

Ms O’Dwyer was appointed as acting chief executive at CEC in April 2017 when Mike Suarez was suspended from the role while the council investigated his conduct.

CEC insisted the move was a ‘neutral act’, but Mr Suarez resigned from his post in July 2018, and Ms O’Dwyer has continued as acting chief executive ever since.

Ms O’Dwyer was recommended for the permanent role by CEC’s staffing committee, although it is understood some members wanted to take the council in a new direction.

A statement will be made at next Thursday’s CEC meeting outlining the authority’s next steps in appointing a chief executive.

CEC’s next chief executive will receive a salary of between £151,000 and £161,000 after councillors agreed to lower the wage bracket by £5,000 in July.

The council worked with a recruitment agency to find candidates for the role, and it is believed this approach will save CEC money in finding a replacement for Ms O’Dwyer.

Ms O’Dwyer joined CEC in 2015 as executive director of children’s services and deputy chief executive.

Her role was expanded the following year to oversee adults’ services, communities and public health.

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Ms O’Dwyer, who lives in St Helens borough, will pick up a salary of £160,000 in her new role – which had been vacant since October.

CEC has been approached for comment.