Welwyn Hatfield chief executive leaves for new unitary council in East Midlands

Chief Executive of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, Rob Bridge, will be stepping down in the Autumn.

Chief Executive of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, Rob Bridge, will be stepping down in the Autumn. Picture WHBC - Credit: Kevin Lines

The chief executive of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council will step down this autumn to take on a similar post at a newly created unitary council in the East Midlands.

If plans for a North Northampton Unitary Council go-ahead next week, Rob Bridge will become chief executive of the new authority after three years in Welwyn Hatfield.

Mr Bridge said working with such a diverse community has been “an absolute honour and privilege”.

“I have served alongside a very talented and committed team of officers and members during my time here, including former leader, Cllr Mandy Perkins who we sadly lost far too soon, and current council leader, Cllr Tony Kingsbury. Both have been remarkable in their ability to combine such a wealth of knowledge and experience with a deep compassion and commitment to their communities.

“I cannot thank everyone enough for all their work over what has been an extremely busy three years.”

READ MORE: Council chief exec appointed to board of WGC BIDThe news of his stepping down comes after Hertfordshire County Council announced it was looking at becoming a unitary authority, which would dissolve boroughs like Welwyn Hatfield.

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In an email to council staff seen by The Welwyn Hatfield Times, Mr Bridge said: “It is important to say that my application and assessment started before the recent local government reform debate started in Hertfordshire and I want to be absolutely clear that I haven’t chosen to leave because of this.”

Leader of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, Cllr Tony Kingsbury, said: “I have worked very closely with Rob throughout his time at Welwyn Hatfield and I am pleased for him that he is taking on this exciting new challenge. He has made a big impact in the three years he has been here, and I am very grateful to him for the commitment and passion he has brought to the role in that time.

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“As I have said in my recent messages to all staff, it is more important than ever that we continue to drive forward with our modernisation programme and other major projects. We have a strong team here and we are well placed to do so.”

READ MORE: Hundreds of council officers could be made redundant if Hertfordshire unitary proposal goes aheadDiscussions will take place in the coming weeks on the way forward to appoint Rob Bridge’s successor.

In his three years in the borough, the council stressed the tireless work Mr Bridge has done to oversee the successful delivery of a wide range of projects to make Welwyn Hatfield a better place to live, work and do business. These include:

· Securing a £10.6m investment from Homes England to fund further residential-led regeneration of Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City town centres.

· Unveiling a revamped town centre square in Hatfield, funded by a £1.2m grant from Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), part of a wider £6m LEP-funded investment in the town.

· Delivering a new, hugely popular £2.2m wet and dry adventure and play facility in Stanborough Park, Welwyn Garden City, this summer.

· Attracting a £750k LEP funding boost to set-up HatTech business centre, providing flexible office space for small and medium-sized businesses, entrepreneurs and solo workers.

· Overseeing an Affordable Housing Programme that delivered hundreds of new properties for local people on lower incomes, and the first council-built homes in a generation.

During Rob’s time as Chief Executive, the council also embarked on an ambitious modernisation programme to ensure services are delivered in the best way possible for local residents, businesses and communities.

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