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South Somerset District Council’s new chief executive has been confirmed

| District

The new chief executive of South Somerset District Council will be Clare Pestell after the appointment was confirmed by Full Council.

Clare, who has been serving as the Council’s Director of Commercial Services and Income Generation since 2017 will take up the role on 7 June following the departure of current Chief Executive Alex Parmley.

He is leaving South Somerset for a new life in New Zealand with his family where he will serve as Chief Executive of Waitaki District Council.

Council Leader Val Keitch said: “We are delighted to appoint Clare to this role after she has demonstrated such innovation and leadership in her role as Director, transforming the culture and mindset of the council to be more commercial so that we can deliver services to our residents with financial security.”

“I have every faith that Clare can take forward the Council’s key objectives of regenerating the district’s largest towns, developing the economy, accelerating housing delivery, improving the environment and tackling climate change, and supporting our struggling families.”

Clare joined South Somerset District Council with 20 years’ experience in the property profession as a Chartered Surveyor, Registered Valuer and Accredited Mediator, following an early career in corporate and high street banking for Lloyds TSB.

Clare Pestell led the development of the Council's Commercial Strategy including investments such as Battery Energy Storage Site (BESS) project near Taunton

Following her appointment as Director of Commercial Services and Income Generation, she built the new directorate and played a key role in the recent transformation of the council. She helped to deliver a new way of operating that created savings and sustainability through adopting a more commercial approach, supporting and services and enabling the delivery of regeneration programmes.

Alongside creating our Commercial Strategy, which is delivering on its challenging target of achieving £3M a year in net income to the council through prudent investments and an improved commercial approach across the organisation, and our Covid-19 Recovery Strategy, Clare has also been leading our Environment Strategy with the team delivering a range of projects to help the council meet its Carbon Neutrality pledge by 2030.

Clare said: “It is a privilege to be appointed to the role of Chief Executive and to lead the delivery of the Council’s commitment to help our residents and businesses recover from the COVID-19 crisis, alongside our ambitious plans for the district’s future.”

“There is considerable work to be undertaken to ensure the Council and its services continue to evolve; that the needs of communities are delivered through priority projects and programmes; and that change in local government in Somerset is taken forward successfully, whatever its shape.”

“I want to thank Alex for all the work he has undertaken over the past five years, it has been a pleasure to be part of his senior leadership team and we have achieved much together.  I wish him and his family all the very best for the future as he prepares for his new role and new life in New Zealand.

“This council has a proud history of delivering quality services and proactively working with its communities and partners to improve quality of life. Since 2016, Alex has galvanised the team here – our members, senior leadership and colleagues from across the organisation - to ensure our place as one of the country’s leading districts, with a clear focus on what is delivered for communities

“My role will be to not only continue that work, but to ensure we remain committed to improving the ways we provide services to residents and businesses, ensure that the best outcomes are achieved for our residents from any changes to local government, and to look after our hard-working staff who work tirelessly to do so much every day to improve the lives of everyone in South Somerset.”

The appointment, which followed a recruitment process led by the Council’s cross-party Appointments committee, is initially on an interim basis for 18 months in light of the potential changes to local government in Somerset which are currently being considered by the Government.

The Secretary of State for Communities recently led a consultation on two options for changes in Somerset which could see the existing five councils of Somerset, including South Somerset, replaced with either two new unitary councils or a single council created in Somerset. A public poll of the residents of Somerset is due to be held in the coming weeks.

If either of these options are agreed, this will lead to South Somerset District Council alongside all of Somerset’s current councils, ceasing to exist in the future.

Cllr Keitch added: “Due to this, it was agreed that we would appoint to the post of Chief Executive on an interim basis. Such an appointment will be necessary to lead the staff team and the organisation through the potential changes ahead.

“If the Secretary of State decided not to change arrangements for local government in Somerset and South Somerset District Council is to continue, then the Council would review the position of Chief Executive and the interim appointment to determine the best arrangements for senior leadership of the authority moving forward.”



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