Challenges lie ahead for new council chief

Anna Graves who takes over as chief executive of South Holland District Council in April.
Anna Graves who takes over as chief executive of South Holland District Council in April.
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The new chief executive of South Holland District Council is pledging to help her staff do “the best job they can do”.

Anna Graves is to take up the role in April after she was unanimously supported by councillors at a meeting in Spalding on Wednesday.

Mrs Graves (49), married with two children, takes over from Geoff Rivers who has been interim chief executive of both South Holland and Breckland district councils since October 2013.

She said: “The attraction of coming here is South Holland and its challenges which I’ve never worked with before.

“I hadn’t been into Lincolnshire before this and the brilliant part about my new job will be finding out about the food and agricultural sectors here, which is really interesting to me.

“But I’m also looking forward to the new challenge of being chief executive for two councils and working towards more sharing and efficiency both within and between them.”

Mrs Graves, who lives with her family near Norwich, has worked in local government for more than 25 years and will join South Holland District Council next month after nearly three years as chief executive of Harborough District Council in Leicestershire.

She said: “When I came out of Leeds University with my Masters degree in transport planning and engineering, there were only two avenues for me to take. One was working with planning consultancies and the other was to work in a local authority.

“I moved to Norfolk, had my children and went to work for Norfolk County Council when transport planning and infrastructure projects were taking off.

“A lot of my experience has come from working in Norfolk and making my way up in the transport planning profession.”

After 14 years with Norfolk County Council, Mrs Graves moved to Norwich City Council in 2004 before spells at Harborough District Council, East Sussex County Council and the Greater London Authority working with Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

Mrs Graves said: “When I started working in local government, it was nothing like it is now.

“There’s been a change in culture among staff who are more performance-driven, thinking more about the money they are spending.

“You have to be a lot more agile, more customer-focused and be able to use all the resources at your disposal.”

Mrs Graves’ new role comes with an annual salary of about £145,000, to be paid by the two councils on a 50-50 basis.

She said: “The staff are here to do a job and they are going to get a lot of drive, motivation and encouragement to deliver the best job they can do.”

Coun Nick Worth, deputy leader of South Holland District Council, said: “I’m highly delighted that Anna has accepted the post as chief executive and I think she’ll be excellent for this council.”

We would like to confirm that her initial salary will be £115,000, not £145,000, as stated in the story on Tuesday.
The council has also confirmed that former chief executive Terry Huggins has returned on a temporary, consultative basis until Mrs Graves starts work in April.