Ipswich Council has new man at the helm

RUSSELL Williams is today due to take over as interim chief executive at Ipswich Borough Council following the sudden death of James Hehir earlier this month.

RUSSELL Williams is today due to take over as interim chief executive at Ipswich Borough Council following the sudden death of James Hehir earlier this month.

The 37-year-old has been a director of the borough since last year but has worked for the council since 1995.

A town planner, he moved through the planning and development department before becoming head of planning, transport and regeneration at Grafton House in 2007.

His new role is due to be formally ratified at tonight's full meeting of the borough council - but he was the unanimous choice of senior councillors from all parties who interviewed candidates on Monday and the vote is not expected to be anything other than a formality.


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Mr Williams said: “Obviously it is a time of very mixed emotions. If my appointment is ratified tomorrow I will be very honoured to be asked to do this important job. I am fortunate to inherit a great team and I am sure they will give me a great deal of support.

“Like many others at the borough I am still in a state of shock over the sudden death of James Hehir. James was a wonderful boss who did everything he could to promote Ipswich.”

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Mr Williams' appointment is initially a temporary role until a full time chief is appointed - but that is expected to take several months.

Council leader Liz Harsant said last week that she did not expect a full-time appointment to be made until September next year - and many at Grafton House hope that if Mr Williams proves successful he might be confirmed as full-time chief at that time.

Mr Williams is married to Paula, a part-time teacher and former head of art at Thurleston High School, in Defoe Road.

He was born in Surrey and went to university at Cardiff. He is a keen sports fan, a member of Ipswich Hockey Club and a supporter of all Wales' sporting teams.

Mrs Harsant welcomed the appointment.

She said: “We are very impressed by Russell and we are confident he will be able to take the town forward in the future.”

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