-- An unsustainable work/life balance: in my first year in Cumbria I was lead officer for public and voluntary sectors fighting foot and mouth disease, as well as chief executive. This left me exhausted before I even began the huge task of modernising a council light years off the pace. By the time the rewards came in, I already had medical advice to cut my workload.
-- A vitriolic press campaign: after foot and mouth disease, newspapers in Cumbria had nothing sensational to report until a reporter picked up on my salary increase. This was turned into a major, sustained and personal campaign against me, and an attack on the Conservative/Liberal Democrat administration. It eventually took a heavy toll on my professional and social life.
-- A devastating Social Services Inspectorate report on our childcare services: devastating primarily because both my social services department and senior SSI staff had indicated to both politicians and me that we were on track for improvement.
I now enjoy a saner working life. I am sad it has proved impossible to find an appointable chief executive successor from a first-tier authority. Partly this is because of regional re-organisation, but it is also because of the irresponsible reporting of circumstances surrounding my retirement, which will have discouraged many potential applicants.
Former chief executive, Cumbria CC