A new Chief Executive has been selected to run Lancaster City Council.
Susan Parsonage was appointed by full council on Wednesday evening following a recommendation from the cross-party Chief Executive Recruitment Committee.
She will take up the role in July following the retirement of the Council’s current Chief Executive, Mark Cullinan.
Susan is currently employed by the London Borough of Ealing as the Director of Safer Communities & Housing. Susan has worked at Ealing Council since 2000 and commenced employment in local government in 1998 at Chester City Council.
She is also a Non-Executive Director of Catalyst Housing Association and is Chair of the Board of the Hyelm Housing Association. Susan has an honours degree in Law and an MPhil.
According to her profile on Catalyst Housing she has "a lead role in improving safety and tackling anti-social behaviour, regulating businesses and private sector housing and managing the council’s housing stock.
"Susan first started in local government in 1998, when she ran a campaign for Chester City council to raise awareness about the issue of violence against women and children. Previously she has been a trustee for a Women’s Aid refuge and has also worked for BT. Susan has a Master of Philosophy on housing matters."
Ms Parsonage will face a number of tough challenges as cuts to local government funding continue to bite. Over the next five years to 2020/21 the council must deliver savings of £262m on top of those already agreed within previous years' budget processes. This has already resulted in the Council having to approve a City Council basic Band D tax increase of £5 be approved for 2016/17, together with a year on year Band D target increase of £5 for future years, subject to future local referendum thresholds.
She made an interesting start when she arrived at Lancaster Train Station for her interview and fate arranged for her taxi driver to be one Andrew Kay, of whose dealings with the current chief executive we have written before. Mr Kay apparently took about half a minute to work out what she was in town for (not everyone asks for a tour of local affordable housing, apparently) and was happy to share with her some of his local experience during the tour. The discussion remained amicable, so that's a change already.
Councillor Eileen Blamire, leader of Lancaster City Council and chairman of the Chief Executive Recruitment Committee, said: “With the post of chief executive comes a series of immense challenges and new opportunities for the District.
“We were looking for someone with the passion to serve the community and lead our workforce through some of the toughest times ever seen by local government, whilst also bringing innovation and entrepreneurial ideas to the Council.
“The recruitment process was rigorous and very thorough and I am delighted to announce Susan Parsonage as the council’s new Chief Executive and look forward to working with her.”
On hearing of the decision Susan said: “I am delighted to have been selected for the role of Chief Executive at Lancaster City Council. I am looking forward to working with all the staff, elected members and partners to achieve our joint ambitions.”