A new chief executive has been appointed at Sunderland City Council, paving the way for Irene Lucas to leave.
Ms Lucas has been Sunderland’s interim chief executive since 2016.
North Tyneside Council’s chief executive Patrick Melia is now set to take on her role in August. His appointment was approved by councillors last night.
Mr Melia, who has lived in South Tyneside all his life, has been chief executive at North Tyneside since 2013. He was previously a corporate director at South Tyneside Council, and has held senior posts at Durham Police and the probation service.
He said: “I’m very proud to have been given this opportunity to join Sunderland City Council and the city. Everyone knows Sunderland is a very dynamic and growing city that has a strong sense of community.
“I’ve watched the changes in Sunderland from the sidelines and I’m looking forward to now joining the team. As a council, Sunderland will continue developing efficient, successful and sustainable services for residents, and attract investment to help the city grow and provide an economic boost for everyone.”
Ms Lucas said: “Patrick has a very strong record in public sector management, [and] a capacity for innovation and he will help drive the council forward and meet the challenges that undoubtedly lie ahead.
“There will always be challenges in local government, and there will always be challenges in Sunderland, and I know the council and people of our city will always meet them.”
Sunderland’s leader Graeme Miller (Lab) said: “It was a very strong field and I believe it reflects the high regard that Sunderland is held, in not only the North East, but also across the country when we can attract so much interest and so many strong candidates.
“As a city, Sunderland continues to change and it continues to move forward, even in what are difficult and trying times for all local authorities.
“The recommendation and approval to appoint Mr Melia shows that our city and council continues to attract talent.
“On behalf of councillors, staff and people of our city, I want to place on the record too my thanks to outgoing chief executive Irene Lucas who has provided strong and firm leadership over the last two years.”
Ms Lucas was South Tyneside’s chief executive from 2002 until she joined the Department for Communities & Local Government, as it was then known, in 2009. There she was responsible for local government finance, policy and performance.
Ms Lucas was also the department’s acting permanent secretary for four months in 2010 after which she left and worked as a consultant in local government and as a director of Hays Travel.