BELLE MONT, our Sutton reporter, on the latest move by the council’s ruling Liberal Democrats
Sutton Council is close to announcing that Helen Bailey is to be appointed as its chief executive.
Sutton has been without a CEO since Niall Bolger jumped ship last October, leaving his £150,000 per year post to take a similar role at Hounslow.
Bailey, 57, has not yet been formally announced to councillors, and the recruitment process is on-going – aided by a firm of private headhunters reputed to be paid a juicy £100,000 fee.
But Bailey is understood to have been interviewed by a panel made up of four LibDem and two Tory councillors, and although she did not achieve unanimous support of her interviewers, she is expected to be announced as the successful applicant in the coming days.
She has previously worked as a director of public service at HM Treasury and from 2012 to 2016 was the chief operating officer for the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime at City Hall.
More recently, Bailey was, briefly (barely a year, from 2016 to 2017), chief exec at Impower, a private consultancy which works with local authorities on children’s services and social care. Since then, she was interim CEO at North Somerset Council until last month. Last April, she registered her own management consultancy company, Leading Place Ltd.
Since 2012, Bailey has also served as a board member of housing association Affinity Sutton and, following their merger, a similar role with Clarion.
It appears that Bailey was better rated for the Sutton top job than Mary Morrissey, one of the council’s leading officials who was also thought to be in the running and has been holding the fort since her boss Bolger quit.
Sutton’s chief finance officer, Gerald Almeroth, ruled himself out of the running for Bolger’s old job by opting to move to a senior position at the City of Westminster.
Bolger’s hard work as CEO saw the sleepy south-west London borough become a regular in Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs column, over a fraudster LibDem councillor, ballsed-up bin collections, dodgy dealings over incinerator planning applications, and the disposal, on the cheap, of council assets to third parties which usually have strong links to the Sutton Liberal Democrats.
The LibDems at Sutton probably think Bailey is well-suited, since she appears to have a firm grasp of councilspeak, describing herself as being “skilled at navigating the interface between political leadership and organisational delivery”.
Bailey says that she has, “Insights into every tier of government and governance and professional expertise in change management and leadership.”
What seems odd, though, is that Bailey also says that she is “excited… to work with leaders… to develop their skills, improve service delivery and develop productive partnerships”. In Sutton? Where Ruth Dombey is council leader? The borough of #SuttonBinShame? Where the council routinely ignores legal instructions from the Local Government Ombudsman and the Information Commissioner?
Now that we will be watching closely.
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