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Chief executive of Lancashire County Council draws praise upon exit for new role

Posted on - 12th June, 2024 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Chorley News, Fylde News, Politics, Preston News, Ribble Valley News, South Ribble News, Wyre News
Angie Ridgwell
Angie Ridgwell

The chief executive of Lancashire County Council has drawn tributes from across the political divide after announcing she is quitting the top job more than six years after she took charge.

Angie Ridgwell is set to leave the £231,000-a-year role in order to run Hertfordshire County Council. She says the area has “strong emotional draws” for her, as it is the place where she grew up.

Ms. Ridgwell arrived in Lancashire in January 2018 as part of what was, at the time, a politically controversial restructure of the senior management at County Hall.   The changes made by the Conservative administration saw the chief executive post combined with that of the director of resources.

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Her tenure has been dominated by having to guide the county council through the perennial financial challenges facing local authorities, as well as the glacial struggle to secure a devolution deal for the county – an agreement that was due to be finalised in the coming weeks, but which has now been put on hold as a result of the general election.

Her time at County Hall was also punctuated by the pandemic, during the early stages of which she was a key member of the Lancashire Resilience Forum – the multi-agency response to Covid-19 in the county – leading the group as ‘Gold Command’ between the summer of 2020 and the following spring.

Conservative county council leader Phillippa Williamson told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that Ms. Ridgwell had been a “dedicated servant” to the authority.

“Angie has worked positively with myself, cabinet colleagues and our partners across the county. She has steered the organisation through the challenges of Covid-19, helped ensure the authority is in a strong financial position and implemented innovative changes to the way we deliver our services to make a real difference to residents and businesses.

“I know this has been a hard decision for Angie, but the opportunity to work closer to where she was brought up was one not to miss – and I know she will make a great success of her new role,” County Cllr Williamson said.

Recently-appointed Labour opposition group leader Matthew Tomlinson said Ms. Ridgwell had  “served the county council – and the people of Lancashire – well during her time with us”.

Wishing her all the best in her new job, County Cllr Tomlinson also turned his attention to the process of finding her replacement, which is now set to get underway.

“The appointment of a new chief executive is always a hugely important decision, but with all-out elections due next year, this news takes on even greater significance. I look forward to the opportunity to be a part of the selection process,” he added.

Lancashire County Council has pledged to ensure “a smooth transition” as part of the recruitment of a new chief executive. The LDRS understands that Ms. Ridgwell is likely to leave in the autumn, although a date has yet to be agreed.

In a statement, she paid her own tribute to the “many talented people” she had worked with in the county who have “the interests of Lancashire’s residents and businesses firmly at heart”.

She added:  “As the lead officer of a large organisation, I am very proud of everything we have achieved as a council during the past six years and the progress we have made.

“Together with our partners, we have worked hard to cushion the effects of Covid – which hit our county hard – strengthen our economy and build resilient services.

“Whoever replaces me will have the pleasure of working with some of the most committed and passionate people I have ever met.”

Hertfordshire County Council currently pays its chief executive just under £208,000 – but, unlike in Lancashire, the role does not incorporate the director of resources position.

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