Chief Executive and Executive Directors

Led by the Chief Executive, the senior staff advise councillors, who take the key decisions, on possible actions.

The council is a large organisation with a total turnover of around £170 million. It is responsible for providing or commissioning a significant range of services.

A survey of residents in 2019 found that 80% were satisfied with council and 95% were happy with the borough as a place to live, both much higher than the national average.

Chief Executive - Russell O'Keefe

Russell O'Keefe, Chief Executive

Russell O'Keefe was appointed as Chief Executive in October 2020 and took up the post on Monday 4 January 2021

Key responsibility
Officers run the council on a day to day basis and, as head of paid service, the Chief Executive is responsible for the strategic leadership of the organisation, acting as an ambassador for the borough and the organisation, while ensuring the successful and effective delivery of all council services, ensuring that the council’s resources are deployed and managed effectively.

Russell was previously Executive Director of Place and Deputy Managing Director at the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead since 2016. During this time, he was also Acting Managing Director for an interim period, assuming overall leadership of the council and working closely with councillors and external partners.

His previous roles at Norwich City Council included Executive Head - Strategy, People and Neighbourhoods and Head of Strategy and Programme Management. While in his role at Norwich Russell had a dual role as Interim Director at Great Yarmouth Borough Council with a primary focus to drive forward organisational improvement.

Executive Director of Resident Services and Regeneration and Deputy Chief Executive - Rebecca Emmett

Rebecca Emmett web

Key responsibility
In addition to being part of the council's leadership team and Deputy Chief Executive, Rebecca is responsible for the directorate focused on improving the place for communities, major service delivery and the continued embedding of the council’s climate change strategy and approach across the organisation and its delivery in the borough.

Rebecca, appointed as the Executive Director of Borough Services in February 2016, has a degree in environmental science and geology from Portsmouth University and a background in managing public services including planning, building control, parking, environmental health, licensing, housing and community safety.

Rebecca was previously Head of Regulatory Services at Three Rivers District Council in Hertfordshire and has also worked for the London Boroughs of Croydon, Hackney and Southwark.

Executive Director of Corporate Services and Assets (Section 151 Officer) - Sue Cuerden

Sue Cuerden

Key responsibility
In addition to being part of the council's leadership team, Sue is the chief financial officer and section 151 officer (under the Local Government Act) responsible to the council for the proper conduct of its financial affairs. This means she is actively involved in all business decisions, ensuring the implications, opportunities and risks are fully considered and alignment with the council’s financial strategy. Sue leads the promotion and delivery by the whole council of good financial management so that public money is safeguarded at all times and used appropriately, economically, efficiently and effectively. Sue is responsible for the directorate focused on the effective management of council resources and governance and leading work across the organisation to improve the customer experience of council services.

A qualified chartered management accountant with over 25 years’ experience in local government, Sue was previously Deputy Section 151 Officer for Southampton City Council, a large and diverse unitary authority. Having helped to drive Southampton’s commercialisation agenda and providing support for the growth agenda, she has also advised on the development of new approaches to housing delivery and a property investment fund, as well as being instrumental in designing and implementing a major reorganisation of the finance service.

Contact us

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  • 01256 844844
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    London Road
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