Council chief replaced by...her husband

THE husband of the outgoing chief executive at one of the country's wealthiest councils is set to become her successor, it has emerged.

Laurence Cawley

THE husband of the outgoing chief executive at one of the country's wealthiest councils is set to become her successor, it has emerged.

But some members of St Edmundsbury Borough Council have already started asking questions about the appointment of Geoff Rivers, who is lined up to succeed his wife Deborah Cadman when the appointment is approved by the council next week.

Mrs Cadman left the council earlier this month to take on the top job at the East of England Development Agency.

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Her husband, currently chief executive at South Norfolk District Council, will be paid up to £130,000 a year as her replacement.

Last night the council defended the appointment process, describing it as “rigorous”.

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But Independent councillor David Nettleton said he would be raising questions about the appointment.

“Because I was not involved in the process I don't know who the other applicants were or what has gone on. I am expecting a copy of a report which might answer some of the questions I have. I've been speaking with one or two councillors and I am forming a view about this.”

He said he would not comment further until he had read the report.

Short-listing was carried out by the external consultancy firm AS Associates, which was paid £25,000 to manage recruitment process.

The six short listed candidates were interviewed by a sub-committee made up of council leader John Griffiths and fellow members David Ray, Sarah Mildmay-White, Paul Farmer, Allan Jones and Dorothy Whittaker.

John Griffiths, leader of the council, said in hindsight appointing an external firm to manage the applications was a wise move and said the entire process had been “thorough, rigorous and transparent”.

He does, however, accept the appointment is unusual - and possibly the first of its type in the country.

“This has to be a unique situation, where the reins are handed over between two chief executives who have not only both steered their respective councils to 'excellent' status but are also married to one another.

“It is certainly unusual but Geoff was chosen on his own merits from a strong and competitive list of candidates and I am confident that he is the right person to take St Edmundsbury forward," Mr Griffiths said.

“There was a rigorous assessment and interview process, with applicants from all over the country, and Geoff shone throughout as a dedicated professional, committed to improving our services still further.

“There is a challenging job for him ahead, steering St Edmundsbury through the local government review process, ensuring all our major projects stay on track and maintaining and improving our day-to-day services.

“However, I am confident Geoff has the skills and experience to ensure the borough council meets the aspirations of our residents and business community.

Mr Rivers has declined to comment until his appointment has been confirmed.

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