‘Options open’ on new chief

Paul Walker
Paul Walker

EVERY avenue will be explored as council bosses set about finding a replacement for outgoing Hartlepool Borough Council chief executive Paul Walker.

That is the promise of Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond as the council sets about finding a replacement.

Mr Walker handed in his notice on Tuesday and will clear his desk on August 31, as revealed by the Mail yesterday.

Mayor Drummond said the £168,000-a-year chief executive “will be missed”, but said every aspect of the top job, including salary, will be scrutinised as the search for a replacement begins in earnest.

He told the Mail: “He is one of the best chief executives around and has done wonders for Hartlepool.

“He will be missed, but life moves on and the council moves on.

“Now it’s a case of doing what’s best for the council.

“There are plenty of options and it’s a case of finding the best one.

“I need to speak to councillors and senior management over the next three months.”

Mayor Drummond said it had become apparent over recent weeks that Mr Walker was thinking of leaving.

He said: “In recent weeks he has spoken about retirement and on Tuesday he put it in writing.

“I don’t think there’s any other reason as far as I can gather. Now that his notice has been formally handed in we have to think about what to do now.

“It’s early days and there’s a whole host of options. We have three months to sort it out.

“The council is a huge organisation and it is vital that we get right how it will be run in the future.”

Mayor Drummond said every aspect of the chief executive role will be looked at including salary, possible job-share with other authorities and the effects of the Localism Bill which is currently going through Parliament.

He added: “Mr Walker’s retirement will present us with opportunities to review options that have not been thought of before.

“That would include salary and there could be options to make savings in the future.”

Mayor Drummond added: “During Paul Walker’s time in Hartlepool, the council has consistently performed well and has continued to improve over his time here which bears testimony to his management and leadership and also to the high quality of staff we have working for the authority.

“I’m sure he’ll look back on his time in Hartlepool with many fond memories and I do wish him every success for the future.”