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Blackburn chief to take Wirral job

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Blackburn with Darwen BC chief executive Graham Burgess is set to be unveiled as the next chief executive of crisis-hit Wirral MBC.

Councillors at the Merseyside authority are set to meet on Monday evening to approve the appointment of an interim chief executive on a two year fixed contract as part of the council’s improvement process.

Mr Burgess, who is from and lives in Liverpool and is a member of Wirral’s improvement board set up by the LGA in January, has secured the post.

It is understood he is to take retirement from Blackburn and will work at Wirral for one day a week during his notice period. Wirral’s acting chief executive will continue to be David Armstrong and trouble-shooter Michael Frater will continue to support the council until Mr Burgess takes up the post full time.

Wirral is currently working with an improvement board set up by the LGA in January. The board was set up following consultant Anna Klonowski’s investigation into the overcharging of care recipients and treatment of whistleblowers.

Labour retook control of the council in May and new leader Phil Davies pledged to continue the improvement work. Renowned trouble-shooter Michael Frater was brought in in April to provide management support to the council. But last month, the acting chief executive and two other senior officers were suspended to allow an investigation into procurement practices to take place.

Mr Burgess has forged a reputation as one of the leading exponents of integrated health and social care structures and Blackburn, while he has been chief executive, was named council of the year in last year’s LGC Awards.

Mr Burgess said: “I am proud to be offered the opportunity to become Wirral’s interim chief executive. Although I will be sorry to leave Blackburn with Darwen, I am looking forward to returning to Merseyside and playing a leading role in the transformation and renewal of Wirral council. Despite the council’s recent well-publicised challenges, it is also a place of great opportunity with huge potential and a strong role to play in the city region.”

Wirral leader Phil Davies (Lab) said Mr Burgess had “an outstanding reputation and his passion and determination to transform this authority is very evident”. He added: “His appointment will provide the necessary skills, direction and stability to make vital changes that will ensure Wirral residents have a Council that they can be proud of.”

Mr Burgess has been at Blackburn since 1998 and leader Kate Hollern (Lab) said she was “very sorry” to see him leave. “I am very grateful for his many years of service to councillors and the people of this borough, and I know that his work will leave a lasting legacy for our residents.”

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