Embattled Suffolk CC chief executive Andrea Hill has gone on “extended leave”, the council has announced, amidst mounting speculation about her long-term future.
A statement by Suffolk acting leader Jane Storey (Con), said: “Andrea is on extended leave as agreed by myself as acting leader.” A council spokesman added Ms Hill was on leave for “personal reasons” but that further details were unavailable.
The statement followed local reports suggesting her immediate future was under threat and a period of upheaval at the embattled council which has sparked rumours of a back bench revolt against the transformation plans and low staff morale.
Ms Hill was recently recognised as the fifth most influential leader in local government in the LGC50 list for her role as key architect of the council’s controversial New Strategic Direction programme.
However, the programme has incurred the wrath of unions, opposition members and, reportedly, some Conservative members.
Speculation over Ms Hill’s future was further fuelled by Mark Bee (Con), the council’s leader-elect, announcing he planned to “reflect on and review” the council’s transformation plans in April in echoes of ministers’ recent pause on controversial plans for NHS reform.
Writing in local paper, the Evening Star, Cllr Bee said: “I’d like the time between now and the council meeting on 26 May 26, to be a time for reflection and review.
“I believe that the direction in which we are heading is the right one, but that we need to be very clear about our aims, about what we are going to be putting in the place of the things we are stopping, before we actually stop them.
“I want to use this time to reflect, to think carefully about the pace with which we are moving, and be clear about how existing services will be replaced.”
Cllr Bee also announced a re-think about plans to slash funding for school crossing patrols and divest library services, which had proved politically sensitive.