Newcastle chief departs
Newcastle City Council’s chief executive Barry Rowland has agreed to leave the council with almost immediate effect. His departure at the end of the month by mutual agreement comes five months after a corporate peer challenge identified problems with his relationship with new leader Nick Forbes (Lab).
The post of chief executive will be advertised in September and executive director of adult and cultural services Ewen Weir has been appointed acting chief executive.
The peer challenge was conducted in March by a team including Sheffield City Council chief executive John Mothersole, Islington LBC leader Catherine West and Blackburn with Darwen Council director of policy and communications Tom Stannard.
The ensuing report found that the relationship between Mr Rowland and Cllr Forbes needed to “move to a new level, becoming closer” if the council itself was to improve. The report identified the coming months as “crucial” as the Labour administration that had taken power in May 2011 would at that time cease to be seen as ‘new’ “and so existing momentum needs to be exploited and frustrations need to be remedied”.
Announcing the departure of Mr Rowland, Cllr Forbes said: “Our recent external peer challenge has set out some of the big issues we face. We will now begin the search for a new chief executive to help us respond radically to unprecedented challenges in the year ahead.
At the time of the publication of the peer challenge, Cllr Forbes had said the report made “some interesting observations which we need to take on board if we are to continue to provide high quality services in the face of cuts”.
Mr Rowland joined Newcastle as a management trainee in 1979 and worked for the council for more than 30 years. He was promoted to chief executive in 2009 and oversaw a council-wide transformation programme that delivered savings of £222m over five years.
He said: “I have enjoyed my time at the city and leave a strong council which is now one of the best in the country. I leave with mixed feelings, sad that I won’t be part of the city’s life in the same way in the future, but excited by the prospect of pursuing new opportunities and fresh challenges.”
Cllr Forbes said: “The council and the city owe a debt of gratitude to Barry Rowland.”