Chief Executive, Deputy Chief Executive and 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 2022 showed 93% were happy with the borough as a place to live, much higher than the national average.

In the survey, 75% said the council was well run and 59% agreed that the council provides good value for money. This is higher than the South East average and national averages.

Chief Executive - Russell O'Keefe

Russell O'Keefe, Chief Executive

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

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.

Deputy Chief Executive - Rebecca Emmett

Rebecca Emmett web

Key responsibility
Rebecca works with the Chief Executive to ensure the efficient and effective running and continuous improvement of the council to maximise the council’s positive impact on the borough and its communities. Rebecca supports the overall strategic leadership of the organisation and the development and delivery of the policy and budget framework.

Rebecca is also responsible for the council’s climate change and sustainability activities and leads the work to ensure the council achieves its ambitious climate change objectives.

Rebecca, appointed as the Deputy Chief Executive in 2022, having been Executive Director of Borough Services since February 2016. She 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.

Director of Resident Services - currently being recruited

Key responsibility
The directorate is responsible for proactively developing and successfully managing the delivery of a range of front line, resident focused, services, including:

  • housing, homelessness and social inclusion
  • planning policy and infrastructure
  • development management and building control
  • environmental health and licensing
  • parking
  • leisure, sport, recreation and wellbeing
  • allotments, parks and open spaces
  • cemetery service
  • street cleansing, waste and recycling collections
  • emergency planning
  • community safety
  • connected communities.

Director of Regeneration - Sarah Longthorpe

Sarah Longthorpe

Key responsibility
Sarah is responsible for driving the Council’s development and regeneration activity across the borough and understanding the key drivers for regeneration for all our customers and communities. Sarah ensures that all this activity is set against the key policies for the council to ensure appropriate, sustainable, and supported change.

Sarah is responsible for the following areas of work:

  • large scale regeneration projects including Basingstoke Town Centre, Basingstoke Leisure Park and Aquadrome and Basing View.
  • Economic development, inward investment and place marketing
  • Arts, culture and events.

Sarah started as Director of Regeneration at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council in April 2023. She was previously Director of Regeneration at Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council.

Experienced in place making and regeneration with a solid foundation of land and property skills gained over 20 years of working in a local authority environment, Sarah has created regeneration and housing focused local authority trading companies.

With a background in contract and leisure management, she spent a few years managing the commercial property and contract interests at Bournemouth seafront. She successfully developed a pipeline of exciting, complex regeneration and commercial property projects, including being the responsible officer for a community focused Towns Fund regeneration programme and negotiating and acquiring a £43 million prime waterfront build to rent residential scheme in Poole.

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.

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