New chief executive for Suffolk County Council

Suffolk County Council has appointed a new chief executive, following a unanimous recommendation by the authority’s Staff Appointments Committee and decision by the full council today.

Nicola Beach, who is currently executive director of infrastructure and environment at Essex County Council, will join Suffolk this summer. During her time at Essex County Council, Nicola has led on the establishment of Transport East, a regional transport body of public and private sector partners to secure more investment in transport schemes in our region and worked with Ringway Jacobs – the company that maintains Essex’s roads – to improve performance and customer experience. She also successfully delivered large savings programmes and led a campaign to improve the A120.

In Suffolk, Nicola will be responsible for a net budget of £500 million a year and lead the authority’s 5,200 staff who deliver, commission or support essential public services, like adult social care, children’s services, highways, public health and public protection.

Her appointment was made due to the wealth of experience Nicola has in local government, having been chief executive at Braintree District Council before joining Essex County Council.

Nicola, who has lived in Ipswich since 2005, said: “I’m delighted to be appointed as Suffolk County Council’s chief executive. I’ve lived in Suffolk for many years and love this county. I am also passionate about delivering great services to local people and I look forward to joining a strong team at the county council and working with councillors, residents, colleagues and partners.”

The appointment follows an extensive recruitment and selection process which concluded this week.

Suffolk County Council leader, Cllr Colin Noble, said:

“We’re hugely ambitious for Suffolk. We want it to be a place where businesses thrive, children and families can flourish and people can grow older in good health. But that won’t just happen – we need first rate people leading our public services. In Nicola, I’m confident that we have found such a person. I very much look forward to working with Nicola in the coming months to continue delivering essential public services and overcoming the financial challenges we’re facing.”

Suffolk County Council’s Labour Group leader, Cllr Sarah Adams, has welcomed the appointment. She said: “I am delighted by the appointment of the new chief executive and am looking forward to welcoming Nicola in what are challenging times for local government.” Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group leader, Cllr David Wood, echoed the welcome. He said: “Nicola is a very experienced and highly-regarded senior local government officer. I very much welcome her appointment and look forward to working with her later this year.”

All three group leaders have paid tribute to Sue Cook, who has acted as interim chief executive since September 2017 when Deborah Cadman left Suffolk County Council. In that time, Sue has helped bring down the council’s projected overspend by 20%, overseen the launch of 10 major service transformation programmes and maintained momentum on the authority’s flagship education improvement programme Raising the Bar – in which she was instrumental in setting up in 2012. For 18 months, Sue also lead the council’s adult social care department, during which time adult care and health service became more integrated in Suffolk. Sue will return to her role as corporate director health, wellbeing and children’s services when Nicola Beach joins the council.

Speaking on behalf of all three group leaders, Cllr Colin Noble said:

“Sue has provided excellent leadership and stability for the council over the last six months, despite the ongoing financial challenges we’re facing. Her calm focus and creative thinking has helped the council to continue moving forward. We would like to put on record our sincere thanks for her excellent contribution and look forward to continuing to work closely with her.”