Cheshire East council set to appoint a new interim chief executive


Cheshire East Council is set to appoint a new interim chief executive, David Parr OBE.

David, who was chief executive at Halton Borough Council for 18 years, has been identified as the preferred candidate by the council's appointments committee.

As this is an important decision, the recommendation of the appointments committee has to be approved by full council on 18 October before a formal appointment can be made.

If approved, he will be contracted at a daily rate of £1200 plus VAT and 15% mark up (equates to £1380 plus VAT) and working the equivalent of 3 days per week - which the Council says is affordable within the current Corporate Services – Directorate budget for the 2023/24 financial.

David has extensive experience in local government, having been chief executive in three authorities, including former Macclesfield Borough Council (before it was reorganised as part of Cheshire East Council in 2009).

In 2019, David was awarded an OBE for services to local government in Halton and Cheshire and prior to this he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration by the University of Chester for services to Cheshire and local government.

Councillor Sam Corcoran, leader of Cheshire East Council, said: "I'm delighted that someone with David's experience has been identified as Cheshire East Council's interim chief executive. The chief executive role plays a critical part in us navigating our way through the challenges that local government is facing and enables us to deliver against the priorities that we have for the borough.

"I would like to thank Dr Lorraine O'Donnell, as our departing chief executive, for her work and wish her well in her new role. Lorraine's contribution to developing the organisation we are today has been significant and invaluable. This has been a time of change for Cheshire East Council and Lorraine has been a driving force, supporting and delivering our vision for the borough. The work continues to find a new permanent chief executive, and David's leadership in the interim, will help us in the next stage of our journey, seizing new opportunities and meeting the challenges that we have ahead of us."

Councillor Craig Browne, deputy leader of the council said, "I'm pleased to support the recommendation of David's appointment, to full council. He is an experienced leader with a track record on making a difference across Cheshire and Halton. His local knowledge will be a great asset while he supports us as the interim chief executive. He is joining us at a challenging time especially in respect to the financial position of local government and more specifically in Cheshire East, where we are where we are seeking to understand the impact of the government's decision to cancel HS2.

"Lorraine joined Cheshire East Council just as the first COVID lockdown began. In her three and a half years as chief executive, Lorraine has supported the organisation through the duration of the pandemic. This has included leading significant changes to working practices for our officers and councillors alike. Lorraine can be proud of many achievements – not least supporting the move to the committee system – a significantly different form of governance and decision-making for the council. The organisation is now in a strong position - I thank her and wish her luck for the future."



Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Alan Brough
Wednesday 11th October 2023 at 5:05 am
So, working his three day week will cost the taxpayer £215,280 plus vat per year. And they wonder why they’re not carrying the full support of local people.
Pete Taylor
Wednesday 11th October 2023 at 6:46 am
Is it possible to provide a daily breakdown of what was done for each £1380 payment? Just bullet points would do.
Gary Chaplin
Wednesday 11th October 2023 at 4:34 pm
Easy to sit and criticise an interim CEO for earning £1200/day, but there are plenty of IT contractors, EDI consultants, Programme Managers* earning more than that.

This is a CEO for a near £400m organisation, an organisation that is in dire need of better leadership after years/decades of mismanagement.

The market rate for a CEO of a £400m business would be earning closer to £350-500,000/yr with a total package of double that*.

The are paying (comparative) peanuts, lets hope they haven't paid for a(nother) monkey.

Perhaps the bigger question is why Cheshire East Council has had a virtual revolving door on the CEOs office for the last 10-15 years (with corresponding resource waste)

(*I'm a headhunter specialising in C-Level appointments and Interim Leaders/Consultants. Those figures are from first-hand experience)
Bryan Jobling
Wednesday 11th October 2023 at 5:17 pm
At that salary it should be for a 7 day week.
Stuart Redgard
Wednesday 11th October 2023 at 5:40 pm
According to, if I looking to appoint a solcitor with just 8years experience on an hourly rate I’d be paying in the region of £255 per hour plus VAT


That’s £1921.50 plus VAT per day

So you could say that to get somebody with his experience at £1380.00 per day is actually quite reasonable.
Susan Parkinson
Wednesday 11th October 2023 at 5:59 pm
doubt he's worth the money, I'm very disappointed with Cheshire East
Jean Berman
Wednesday 11th October 2023 at 6:48 pm
And we were led to believe CE was short on funds nearly £4K a week . What a joke !
Laurie Atterbury
Wednesday 11th October 2023 at 7:09 pm
Will he work from home as he's not on the CEC payroll?
Jon Williams
Thursday 12th October 2023 at 9:02 am
The national average salary for a Head teacher is £67,450, so I think that salary is more realistic !
Julian Barlow
Thursday 12th October 2023 at 9:51 am
Given the financial shambles that is local government (including the local authority that Mr. Parr most recently departed) it's hard to see why 18 years experience in the public sector is considered an attribute.

A quick Google at any news articles concerning Halton council show it to be another poorly performing authority with disgruntled constituents and no money.

I suspect that a dynamic candidate genuinely motivation to deliver what constituents want would terrify CEC, and to this end he's the ideal candidate.
Nick Jones
Thursday 12th October 2023 at 3:28 pm
There appears a serious disconnect with public opinion in CEC's engagement of this part timer, irrespective of experience. Sam Corcorran, Craig Browne have ignored public opinion, The residents taxpayers who put them in post now have to pay extra to empty their bins, with increased council tax and precepts year on year... CEC councillors arent volunteering to pay this significant salary and pension increase from their own salaries... But perhaps they should.

In 2021/22 CEC secures £19.6m from S106,(probably more in 22/3)yet review indicates ‘No Assurance’ in CEC 'effective & efficient use of S106' ‘Limited strategic oversight, Ineffective monitoring and accountability, Ineffective governance and monitoring, continuation of poor practice’.. A reported budget deficit of £12.8M on Lorraine O'Donnell's watch,she leaves CEC for more cash, then CEC pay even more than their proposed £200k salary for a part time interim replacement.

Wake up and smell the coffee ! Live within your budget. Its our tax dollars.

Westfields is virtually empty, not used and CEC stated ‘more people working from home /hybrid working, much of the office space is no longer needed’.. So sell it raise cash ..
The baby is out with the bathwater here, has the watershed moment now been reached of CEC's ability ?... The public giveth and The public taketh away
Gary Chaplin
Thursday 12th October 2023 at 3:28 pm
Jon, are you suggesting the CEO of a £400m council should be paid the same as a school headteacher??

Julian: Bang on, alas Public Sector almost only ever recruit from within, it's why every single public sector organisation I have ever seen is on its knees and run with monumental inefficiencies. Closed Shop, and the suggestion to get someone in 'from business' gets drowned out. No-one wants to be challenged.
Alan Brough
Thursday 12th October 2023 at 6:57 pm
@Gary Chaplin - so why are you saying that, from your experience, Public Sector organisations are poorly led, inefficient and have hopeless upper-tier recruitment policies, whilst earlier saying that that this chap’s package is below par for the course (even allowing for the fact that you’ve failed to pro-rata his part time remuneration to a full time value?

As you’ll be painfully aware, Private Sector businesses tend to be results-focused and senior execs can only enjoy the packages you describe if they deliver bottom line results to shareholders…in spades.

In the case of CEC they have demonstrably failed to deliver benefit to their stakeholders and they now seek to shovel this latest “Hired Gun” before us with their sycophantic praise and back-slapping and n’er a backward glance at his record at under-performing Halton Council.

But it’s not real money is it? It’s just OUR money!
Gary Chaplin
Friday 13th October 2023 at 1:04 pm
@Alan Brough - Public Sector organisations are poorly led, inefficient BECAUSE they purely recur from within and don't pay to gain more competent leadership.

I've placed interim main board directors into business far smaller and far less complex on north of £2,000/day. CEOs I've place have been double that. Easy to scoff at that level, but when the previous leader left a £12m deficit, £4,000/day is chump change.

All organisations should be results focused. All Execs should be remunerated according to the results they deliver.

The system is broken. The Public Sector is broken.

This appointment is poor in my professional opinion, but they would never look outside the comically small closed-shop to find a leader.

Years ago I offered to locate a CEO for CEC, one of the many times they needed to replace one, free of charge as long as an independent team ran the process or at least reviewed the appointment (perhaps a selection of CEC residents, the true stakeholders!) - they declined, and instead appointed a 'public sector recruitment specialist' who charged a 33% finders fee. The incumbent lasted months, and they paid the same firm to locate a successor.

As I say, the system is broken. The Public Sector is broken.
Mark Goldsmith
Sunday 15th October 2023 at 11:56 am
Imagine you are responsible for a large ship with a valuable cargo. It has to safely reach its next port, which means sailing it across a stormy sea, navigating it around dangerous reefs and fighting against some treacherous tides. Do you:

a) Hire a deckhand to steer the ship. They are cheap and how difficult can it be?
b) Hire the best captain you can find. Yes, they cost more but this is a tiny amount compared to the cost of the ship crashing or sinking.

This is why the CEC councillors of all persuasions will be supporting this appointment. For those who want a more detailed rationale:

- The council is legally required to have a CEO.

- This is an interim appointment and temporary staff cost more to hire. And no, David does not want this job on a permanent basis.

- Our next permanent CEO will likely have a 3 month notice period, hence why we need an interim appointment.

- CEO’s of businesses are not the same as CEO’s for councils. The jobs are very, very different and the two almost never interchange (ask John Lewis how it has worked out for them when they recently tried it).

- There are only 251 other councils in the UK and 75% of them pay more than CEC. Therefore, there is a very small pool of people with the relevant experience who can do the job.

- They decide how much pay they want. Not me, not you. Whatever, you think they should be paid is irrelevant. Like everyone else in our society, the job market dictates the wage levels.

In return for their pay, the new Cheshire East CEO will be expected to:

- Manage 3,000 staff that provide 500 different services. This is also while CEC has 500 staff below the budgetted level.

- Oversee an additional £13m of cost savings this year because demand for services CEC has to legally provide has massively grown. This £13m is in addition to the £12m already made (eg the new Green Bin charge will likely raise £4m a year). This will involve restructuring staff, closing some facilities and opening new ones. Yes, Westfields is included in that and is likely to be sold or repurposed. We are already consulting on this.

- Fix our Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) services, demand for which is +67% up this year alone and £45m over budget. Parents have the right to demand special measures for a child with a recognised disorder eg mild autism. Often, this means a special school at the cost of £50,000 a year plus £10,000 in taxi fees. There are no ifs, no buts, the council has to pay it. The new CEO will work with the government to fix this severe problem that around 30 other councils are also experiencing (mostly Conservative run ones in the South East). CEC gets a very low educational grant from the government (149th lowest out of 152 councils) but has a very high demand for SEND support (we have informed parents who fully utilise the opportunities available). Currently, the government allows us the exceptional measure to carry this as debt because it knows we are operating best practise and it’s not our fault. However, it still means £3m a year in interest repayments and the debt will quickly balloon to £500m in 5 years if this is not resolved. The new CEO has to fix this.

- They will also have to recoup the £8m CEC invested in HS2 projects. This was a capital cost spread over 20 years of the buildings lifetime. However, now HS2 is scrapped, it becomes a service fee, so all £8m is payable now. The CEO will ask the treasury to refund this money or amend their accounting practices. Otherwise, that’s another £8m of cuts.

Therefore, the CEO’s role is critical to the future of CEC. Like many, many other councils Cheshire East is sailing in turbulent waters and there is a real risk it will sink in the coming years. This is not from mismanagement though. It is from severely overloading the boat.

So, I am going to give the ship every chance to keep afloat and saving on the captains salary would be a false economy. It would risk spoiling the ship for a hapeth of tar and is not a gamble I will take on my watch.

Best regards


Cllr Mark Goldsmith
Residents of Wilmslow
Wilmslow West & Chorley
Alan Brough
Sunday 15th October 2023 at 8:45 pm
Thanks Mark - that’s informative. I can add you to my list.
Jon Williams
Monday 16th October 2023 at 12:22 pm
"They decide how much pay they want. Not me, not you. Whatever, you think they should be paid is irrelevant. Like everyone else in our society, the job market dictates the wage levels."

Sorry Mark, but they work for us !
Alan Brough
Monday 16th October 2023 at 4:33 pm
Another point. Judging by the way that the remuneration package is described as a payment (plus VAT) it would appear that the CE comes to us via a Consultancy or Agency. Could we have the name of the company as well as a list of its directors?
Stuart Redgard
Tuesday 17th October 2023 at 3:35 pm
Jon Williams

How many headteachers are responsible for circa 300 members of staff and gross annual spending in the region of £700m?

Many I suggest none!
Alan Brough
Tuesday 17th October 2023 at 6:50 pm
Stuart Redgard,

How many Council Chief Execs have the ability to improve the lives and outcomes of thousands of children and young people through inspirational leadership?

May I suggest none!
Jon Williams
Wednesday 18th October 2023 at 7:50 am
Wilmslow High School has over 2000 pupils + staff, quite a few more than 300 members of staff that Cheshire East has !
As for annual spending that might be better done by an Accountant
Mark Goldsmith
Wednesday 18th October 2023 at 8:47 am
Alan - our CEO has legal responsibility for all the schools in CEC as well as child social services, children in care, fostering & adoption plus children's health.

That's about 75,000 children of all ages from 0 to 18 for 365 days a year for all the education, health and welling needs of children, some who are the most vulnerable in our society. It is not the 190 days x 7 hours that schools are open.

I therefore think your suggestion is wrong.
Alan Brough
Wednesday 18th October 2023 at 3:28 pm
I refer you to my original question … how many have the ability?

The fact that most Councils including CE are regarded as “failing” in terms of their ability to deliver services on budget is reflective (I think) of their management.

CE Council has a woeful recent record where senior appointments are concerned.

I wouldn’t trust some of the recent executives to run a whelk store, let alone a school or a Statutory Authority in need of dragging back onto the straight and narrow.

But back to this new chap who is returning to CE Council on a part time basis. The remuneration package would suggest that he’s being brokered by a consultancy or agency. Any luck in finding out who the company is and who their shareholders might be?
Simon Worthington
Friday 20th October 2023 at 7:30 am
3000 staff providing 500 different services. 6 per "service". What are these 500 services and how much waste is there involved in this provision. This IS a business and should be run as such.