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Suffolk: New chief ready for a tough baptism

PUBLISHED: 12:00 21 October 2011

Deborah Cadman, new Suffolk county council executive

Deborah Cadman, new Suffolk county council executive

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SUFFOLK: The arrival of Deborah Cadman as chief executive at the county is seen as the dawn of a new chapter – but as she prepares to arrive at Endeavour House no one is in any doubt about the task ahead of her.

When her predecessor Andrea Hill arrived in 2008 times had been good for local authorities and there was still more government money on the way for schemes like new SureStart Centres.

Ms Cadman arrives at an authority that is facing having to make £50 million worth of cuts to services over the next two years – coming on top of a £43 million reduction this year.

She has to lift the morale of staff who have felt battered by the level of change they’ve been facing over the last 18 months – and who were further shattered by the suicide of legal boss David White earlier this year.

But there is a tremendous amount of goodwill for the new chief out there – and an expectation that if anyone can carry staff through what is bound to be a traumatic period it is Ms Cadman.

I’ve spoken to staff privately over the last few weeks who have told me that they have seen the mood lift over the last few weeks as interim chief executive Lucy Robinson’s soothing style has poured oil on the troubled waters of the early months of the year.

Most had been hoping Ms Robinson would get the job full-time – but those I have spoken to since Ms Cadman’s appointment have been encouraged by what they have heard about her.

And it has been very difficult, in fact so far impossible, to find anyone with a bad word about the new chief.

You’d expect leader Mark Bee to be heaping praise on the new appointment, but there have been similar words from his political opponents who rarely agree with him.

Leading Labour councillor Bryony Rudkin was on the board which appointed Ms Cadman as chief executive of the East of England Development Agency in 2008.

She described her appointment to the county council as a “brilliant” move. Green councillor Mark Ereira, who was a member of St Edmundsbury Council when Ms Cadman was chief executive there described her appointment as “inspired.”

Both used the same word to describe her approach to life and to her job: grounded.

Mrs Rudkin expected that Ms Cadman would have noticed the great job done by interim chief executive – and her job rival – Lucy Robinson.

“Deborah will have seen the great job that Lucy has done steadying the ship over the last few months and I’m sure they will make a formidable team,” she said.

Over the last three years much has changed at the county council and few would argue that it is a happier place than it was in early 2008.

Much is likely to change over the next three years – but it seems as if Ms Cadman will at least arrive on a tide of goodwill which should be able to carry her forward.

Has the county chosen the right new chief executive? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk


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