Busy first week for new Hartlepool council chief

Gill Alexander (right) presents an award to Julie Callaghan, a lecturer at HCFE, to mark its involvement in Exercise Sandpiper.
Gill Alexander (right) presents an award to Julie Callaghan, a lecturer at HCFE, to mark its involvement in Exercise Sandpiper.
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Hartlepool Borough Council’s new chief executive has enjoyed her first week in the role and is looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead.

Gill Alexander, who was the council’s director of child and adult services from October 2013, took up the top post on Monday following the retirement of Dave Stubbs.

I am taking over as chief executive of a vibrant council with ambition which performs very well overall. It is a council that punches well above its weight.

Gill Alexander, new chief executive

Her first meeting on Monday was the council’s finance & policy committee, where councillors debated the reduction in business rates from Hartlepool Power Station which could see the authority lose as much as £3m this year and £2m for all future years.

The council – which is already facing Government cuts of more than £14m over the next three years – is seeking a meeting with the Local Government Minister Greg Clark in the hope that he can ease its plight.

Tuesday saw Ms Alexander attend the Exercise Sandpiper awards presentation, where she heaped praise on students from Hartlepool College of Further Education (HCFE), who played a major part in Cleveland’s biggest-ever emergency planning exercise earlier this year.

Exercise Sandpiper was a full-day exercise involving all of the emergency services and other key organisations as part of their work to plan and prepare for major incidents.

It included a scenario where a hostage was taken in a mock college setting (Jacksons Landing) which resulted in the arrest of two suspects and one other being shot dead.

Much of the remainder of the week has been spent having internal meetings with key senior officers and politicians as Ms Alexander prepares for the months ahead.

Speaking at the end of her first week in the job, Ms Alexander said: “It’s been a pretty hectic first week with lots of scheduled meetings but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

“Despite the ongoing financial challenges, the council is at the forefront of some great work and I am very confident that exciting times lie ahead for Hartlepool.

“One of the main inspirations in applying for the post was the tremendous team of council officers and the many committed councillors who work very hard for the benefit of the town.

“I am taking over as chief executive of a vibrant council with ambition which performs very well overall. It is a council that punches well above its weight; it has a reputation as a can-do council and works well in partnership with other organisations.”

Mr Stubbs retired following a career in local government spanning almost 44 years.

He was born and educated in Hartlepool, Mr Stubbs joined the council in 1971 as a work study officer.