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South Somerset District Council’s Chief Executive to stand down for new life in New Zealand

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South Somerset District Council’s Chief Executive Alex Parmley is to step down from his role after almost five years for a new life in New Zealand.

Alex has overseen and led the work of the council during an extraordinary period in South Somerset’s history. This has included steering the organisation through a successful transformation programme, spearheading regeneration programmes for Yeovil, Chard and Wincanton, ensuring communities were supported through the Covid-19 pandemic and much more.

Image shows Alex Parmley, Chard Regeneration artists impression and SSDC logo

Chief Executive Alex Parmley, who has overseen some projects as the Chard Regeneration project, is stepping down

He will be leaving to take up a position as Chief Executive of Waitaki District Council on the South Island in New Zealand.

Alex said: “It has been an immense privilege to serve as the Council’s Chief Executive and to work with such a fantastic team of colleagues who work tirelessly always with a focus on our residents.

“Together, over the past few years we have transformed the council, taken forward new approaches such as the Commercial Strategy, and stretched the ambition of the organisation to regenerate our three largest towns, develop our economy, deal with the climate emergency, support those families who are struggling in our communities and much more besides.

“There have been challenges along the way and, in being ambitious and innovative, it was inevitable that we would not always get everything right at the first attempt. But I feel together, we have got the Council to where it needed to be: financially secure, no cuts to services, modern, agile, and focused on improving our communities.

“I am hugely proud of what we have achieved and I look to take forward the same ambition to my new role in Waitaki. My wife is a New Zealander and we have long held a plan that we would relocate there with our family. Waitaki, much like South Somerset, is a council with a good reputation and strong ambition and this together with great communities and some of the best natural environment in the world, presents an opportunity to good to miss.”

Alex was appointed by Full Council in August 2016, committing to the Leader that he would fulfil the role for four to five years to help take the council through the changes Members wanted to see and start delivering the ambitions Members held for South Somerset and its communities.

During that time, he has seen the council continually gain national recognition for its innovative work, including what it has achieved through its commercial, economic and environmental strategies, with Alex himself shortlisted as Chief Executive of the Year at the prestigious MJ Awards in 2020.

Council Leader Val Keitch said: “On behalf of all of our Members, I want to thank Alex for the tireless work has undertaken over the past five years. He has made such a difference to the lives of all those living in South Somerset and across the region through his work with partners and on the future of local government through his role in developing the Stronger Somerset proposal.

“In particular, I want to thank him for the role his leadership has played in ensuring this council could do so much to support residents through the Covid-19 crisis, from setting up the county’s first wellbeing hub to redeploying hundreds of staff to support vaccination and testing centres while still delivering vital services.

“There is no doubt that he leaves behind an organisation which is much better equipped to deal with future challenges and continue to provide the best possible services for our residents, focused on delivering the right outcomes for our towns and villages.”

Alex is due to formally step down from his role as Chief Executive on 11 July. The Council will now seek to recruit an interim Chief Executive, with that recruitment process starting tomorrow (Tuesday 20 April) to ensure continuity of leadership. The step to recruit an interim CEO at this stage was determined the most appropriate pending the outcome of the Secretary of State for Communities decision regarding potential changes to local government in Somerset.  

The aim is for Full Council to make a decision regarding an appointment in May.

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