Suffolk CC leader Mark Bee (Con) has used his inaugural speech to pledge to re-build the relationship between the council and its residents, but made no mention of the prospects for suspended chief executive Andrea Hill.
Cllr Bee faces a challenging start to his tenure with the council awaiting a probe into staff whistleblowing allegations and struggling with the fallout from the council’s unpopular restructuring plans.
The former Waveney DC leader, who officially took over the troubled authority from Jeremy Pembroke on Thursday night (26 May), promised to tailor the council’s reform programme, the New Strategic Direction, towards residents’ priorities.
He said: “Let me start by addressing directly the issue of the New Strategic Direction. Much good work has been done as part of the NSD and I will talk about some of that work today.
“However I do not believe that the NSD as a concept has connected with the people of Suffolk, some politicians, partner organisations or, indeed, many of our staff.
“The people of Suffolk expect to be listened to and cared about. I don’t believe the vast majority of people believe we have been doing that.”
The speech comes with the council bracing itself for the conclusions of an independent probe into the “anonymous complaints” that resulted in Ms Hill being placed on gardening leave.
Law firm Wragge & Co has carried out the review and is expected to hand a preliminary report to the council in the coming days. The council did not confirm when the report will be handed to its leadership but sources familiar with the probe said it was expected “in the next week”.