A NEW chief executive of South Somerset District Council (SSDC) was decided at a meeting this week.

Clare Pestell, who has been serving as the council’s director of commercial services and income generation since 2017, will take up the role on June 7.

She is taking over the role from Alex Parmley, who is leaving to live in New Zealand, where he will serve as chief executive of Waitaki District Council.

READ MORE: Chief executive of South Somerset District Council leaves for new job in New Zealand

Ms Pestell, who joined SSDC with 20 years experience in the property profession, said it is a "privilege" to be appointed to the role.

“There is considerable work to be undertaken to ensure the council and its services continue to evolve; that the needs of communities are delivered through priority projects and programmes; and that change in local government in Somerset is taken forward successfully, whatever its shape," she said.

“I want to thank Alex for all the work he has undertaken over the past five years, it has been a pleasure to be part of his senior leadership team and we have achieved much together.

"I wish him and his family all the very best for the future as he prepares for his new role and new life in New Zealand.

“This council has a proud history of delivering quality services and proactively working with its communities and partners to improve quality of life.

"Since 2016, Alex has galvanised the team here – our members, senior leadership and colleagues from across the organisation - to ensure our place as one of the country’s leading districts, with a clear focus on what is delivered for communities.

“My role will be to not only continue that work, but to ensure we remain committed to improving the ways we provide services to residents and businesses, ensure that the best outcomes are achieved for our residents from any changes to local government, and to look after our hard-working staff who work tirelessly to do so much every day to improve the lives of everyone in South Somerset.”

When Ms Pestell joined SSDC, she built the new directorate and played a key role in the recent transformation of the council.

She helped to deliver a new way of operating that created savings and sustainability through adopting a more commercial approach, supporting and services and enabling the delivery of regeneration programmes.

Council leader Val Keitch said the council is "delighted" to appoint Ms Pestell as the new chief executive.

"She has demonstrated such innovation and leadership in her role as director, transforming the culture and mindset of the council to be more commercial so that we can deliver services to our residents with financial security," she added.

“I have every faith that Clare can take forward the council’s key objectives of regenerating the district’s largest towns, developing the economy, accelerating housing delivery, improving the environment and tackling climate change, and supporting our struggling families.”

The appointment, which followed a recruitment process led by the council’s cross-party appointments committee, is initially on an interim basis for 18 months in light of the potential changes to local government in Somerset which are currently being considered by the Government.

There are two options for changes in Somerset which include Stronger Somerset or One Somerset.

If either options are agreed, then SSDC, alongside the other Somerset councils, will cease to exist.

Cllr Keitch added: “Due to this, it was agreed that we would appoint to the post of chief executive on an interim basis.

"Such an appointment will be necessary to lead the staff team and the organisation through the potential changes ahead.

“If the Secretary of State decided not to change arrangements for local government in Somerset and SSDC is to continue, then the council would review the position of chief executive and the interim appointment to determine the best arrangements for senior leadership of the authority moving forward.”