Chief executive of Northamptonshire County Council to stand down

The county council budget press conference this morning. From left, chief executive Paul Blantern, leader of the council, Councillor Heather Smith, cabinet member for finance, Councillor Robin Brown and interim chief finance officer Damon Lawrenson.
The county council budget press conference this morning. From left, chief executive Paul Blantern, leader of the council, Councillor Heather Smith, cabinet member for finance, Councillor Robin Brown and interim chief finance officer Damon Lawrenson.

The acting chief executive of Northamptonshire County Council will stand down after five months in charge.

Damon Lawrenson took over the role in November 2017 on an interim basis following the departure of Paul Blantern.

But following the scathing report of the county council on Thursday, the authority has revealed leader Councillor Matt Golby and Mr Lawrenson have agreed to “conclude the interim role next week.”

Current director of commercial, place and health Andrew Quincey will become acting chief executive while the council awaits the secretary of state’s direction following the Best Value Inspection report.

Acting leader Councillor Golby said: “Damon has been an ambassador for this county at a very difficult time. He has steered this council through some unprecedented territory and has faced up to the challenges that have emerged with his inimitable, can-do attitude.

“Damon and I have agreed that this is now the best time for him to end his temporary tenure with us.

“He has steered us through the period of our inspection, and our recent budget setting process. These have been some of the most difficult challenges this or indeed any other council has ever faced. I can only thank him for his work and dedication.”

Mr Lawrenson came under fire last week after it emerged he was holiday in Dubai when the council’s chief finance officer chose to put emergency section 114 spending controls in place.

In a short statement today, he said; “Now is the right time for me to move on from this position. I wanted to see the council through the 2018/19 budget setting process, the inspection process and then latterly through the advisory notice from our auditors. With these now completed I feel it is time for the council and indeed all councils in the county to move on to the next phase of their combined future.

“I truly believe that this council is full of excellent people who have not only shown they can face up to some of the biggest challenges ever faced by a local authority but have shown the aptitude, skill and awareness to navigate what will no doubt be difficult and turbulent waters ahead.”