THE new acting top officer for Hartlepool council was given a warm welcome after councillors backed her appointment.
Nicola Bailey’s appointment as acting chief executive was officially endorsed by the full council at an extraordinary meeting at Hartlepool Borough Council last night.
The former director of child and adult services takes over the reins as the council’s most senior officer from the outgoing Paul Walker, who has retired.
Mayor Stuart Drummond and councillors welcomed Mrs Bailey to her new post amid challenging financial times for the council.
Mayor Drummond said: “I’m sure councillors will join me in welcoming Nicola to her new post and wishing her the very best and look forward to working with her in her new capacity.”
Councillor Chris Simmons, Labour group leader, added: “I’m absolutely confident she is going to make a really super job of acting chief executive and I’m full of admiration for anybody who has got the courage to stand up and take that particular role on because I think it’s going to be a difficult one. But I’m sure she is more than capable to lead us through the difficult times ahead.
“I would like to offer her the full support of the Labour group through these challenging times and look forward to working with her.”
All councillors present voted for Mrs Bailey’s appointment, except St Hilda independent councillor John Marshall who abstained.
Mrs Bailey, who has worked for the council for six years, will receive a salary of £158,000 a year, the same Mr Walker was getting before his controversial £10,000 pay rise.
The arrangement will run until next spring to give the local authority time to find an “efficient and long-term solution”.
Civic chiefs say it will save the council more than £70,000 this year.
After being recommended for the job by a council appointments panel, Mrs Bailey, 45, said: “I am delighted to be given the opportunity to take on the role of acting chief executive.
“I am fully aware of the challenges that lie ahead and am absolutely committed to working together with councillors, officers, partner organisations and the public to do the very best for Hartlepool.”