The new chief executive of the Local Government Association is to be paid £169,000 a year not including pension contributions, the organisation has said.
Former Shropshire CC chief Carolyn Downs was named on Friday as the successful candidate and is set to take over from John Ransford in the next three months.
Ms Downs, who is currently chief executive of the Legal Services Commission, saw off strong competition from London Councils chief John O’Brien and Local Partnerships head Helen Bailey, who were both shortlisted for the role.
Following heavy criticism from ministers and others of Mr Ransford’s £245,612 salary, since reduced to £80,000, the LGA advertised the chief executive role with a salary of £150,000 but said the payment might increase for an exceptional candidate.
Ms Downs will be paid £169,000 and standard pension contributions of 15.9%, taking her total remuneration to £195,871. The LGA said there would be “no other financial benefits or allowances included in the remuneration, except for legitimate expenses”.
Before taking on role of deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice, Ms Downs spent 26 years in local government, including roles at Calderdale MBC, Stevenage BC and Haringey LBC.
In her last council post before moving to Whitehall, Ms Downs oversaw Shropshire’s re-organisation from a two-tier area to a unitary authority. She spent six years at the authority before joining the MoJ in 2003.
LGA chairman Sir Merrick Cockell said she would bring “a wealth of experience” to the organisation after working “at every tier of government nationally, regionally and locally – and for virtually every different type of local authority”.
The LGA’s political leadership has been particularly concerned the next chief executive should be able to build good relationships with central government as major reform of the public sector is undertaken.
Sir Merrick said: “Carolyn’s skills, knowledge and contacts developed in previous high profile roles such as chief executive of Shropshire County Council and her senior roles in Whitehall will be invaluable in ensuring local government has a strong and authoritative voice
“Carolyn proved herself to be the stand-out candidate among a very high calibre group, and I look forward to working closely with her to drive forward the local government agenda.”
Ms Downs said: “This is a crucial time to be leading local government and I am looking forward hugely to getting to grips with the issues it faces, working with local authorities all over the UK, and with national government, to ensure the LGA shapes the debate and plays an authoritative role in helping members meet their challenges.
“As I know only too well from personal experience, these challenges place enormous pressures on local councils, their staff and their leaders. The political leadership and I will work exceptionally hard to provide the support which local government and LGA members expect across the extraordinarily wide range of issues and services they cover.”
* The LGA originally stated their contribution to Ms Down’s pension would be 14% of her salary, and this was reflected in an earlier version of this story. The association has since issued a correction as the contribution will be 15.9%.
Carolyn Downs: ticking all the boxes
- 2011: Set to join the Local Government Association as chief executive
- 2010: Joins Legal Services Commission as chief executive
- 2009: takes on role of deputy permanent secretary and director general of the corporate performance group at the Department of Justice
- 2008: ranks number 19 in the LGC 50
- 2003: joins Shropshire CC where she oversaw its convertion from a two-tier county council to a unitary.