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HCA chief gets Newcastle job

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Pat Ritchie, the chief executive of national housing body the Homes & Communities Agency, has been named the next chief executive of Newcastle City Council.

Ms Ritchie’s appointment was announced by council leader Nick Forbes on Tuesday morning. She will take over from acting chief executive Ewen Weir at the end of January.

As well as working with the city in her HCA role, Ms Ritchie was also formerly an assistant chief executive of the regional development agency One North East.

Last week, Cllr Forbes wrote to David Cameron claiming that cuts to the grant it receives from central government threatened to “permanently undermine” the cohesion of local communities.

But taking on the role, Ms Ritchie said: “Whilst there will inevitably be pressure on services, we should remain positive about our ability to create a brighter future. As a major core city, Newcastle will still have the credibility and the clout to make a huge difference to economic prospects of the city and the whole of the north-east.”

Cllr Forbes said: “Pat will provide the strong managerial leadership and vision that the council needs as it comes to terms with the most difficult budget challenge it has ever faced.”

According to local newspaper the Journal, interviews with an all-woman shortlist of four candidates were conducted last week.

Former chief executive Barry Rowland stood down earlier this year following a corporate peer challenge report arranged by the LGA which found friction between senior officers and politicians.

The ensuing report found that the relationship between Mr Rowland and Cllr Forbes needed to “move to a new level, becoming closer” if the council itself was to improve.

  • Meanwhile, former Worcestershire CC senior director Diane Tilley has been unveiled as the replacement for Nina Dawes at Litchfield DC.

Ms Tilley stood down as director of planning, economy and performance at Worcestershire earlier this year after an 11-year spell at the council. She also acted as interim chief executive at Wyre Forest DC for five months in 2009.

“Without doubt, we have tough financial times ahead, given the changes taking place at central government, but I know that Nina has built up a strong and dedicated team,” she said.

Her appointment will be confirmed at a full council meeting on Tuesday

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