Councillors have offered cross-party support and thanks to the Chief Executive of Wrexham Council for the work she has undertaken since her appointment six years ago.
In July 2017 Wrexham.com reported that Chief Executive Dr Helen Paterson would be stepping down from her role this November after being offered the same position with Walsall Council.
Dr Paterson joined Wrexham Council in 2011, having previously served at Sunderland City Council where she was Strategic Director of Transformation leading the Council’s efficiency and improvement programme.
A person in the chief executive role is the council’s most senior officer, who leads and takes responsibility for the work of the paid staff of the council, however the post is non-political.
Last Wednesday marked her last Full Council meeting for the local authority, before she leaves the role next month.
During last week’s meeting councillors from all parties took the opportunity to offer their thanks for the Chief Executive, noting that she has helped guide the council through some difficult financial times.
Council Leader Mark Pritchard led the tributes, thanking Dr Paterson for the “excellent job” that she had carried out over the past six years.
He said: “I sometimes wonder and think if you really knew what you were coming into when you came to Wrexham. Six years you have been with us and as the Mayor has said, it has been extremely difficult financial times.
“I think what you have brought to Wrexham is an honesty, a transparency and an openness.
“You’re very firm on governance and standards, and I think that’s what you’ve brought here. I think if you can look back on six years and we look back as councillors and you’ve improved this council on where we were six years ago. I remember that place and it wasn’t a good place.
“From myself and out group, wish you all the very best and hope you succeed in all your ambitions and get to where you want to be in your life. Well done and a big thank you.”
Leader of the Labour group, Cllr Dana Davies, thanked Dr Paterson for the support and guidance she offered her when she was elected into the council several years ago.
Cllr Davies said: “I’d like to say a few words but i’m going to take a personal thread. I first met Dr Paterson through a bi-election in Ruabon following the very sad passing of Cllr Barry Price
“Being the only woman in the Labour group at that time as well was daunting and I really appreciate the advice and the time you took with me during those first six months when i was trying to find my feet before we went back for the main elections in May.
I see that support in other women councillors we’ve got regardless of political preference. You are very supportive of women in politics, you understand what they can bring to the table and whatever happens in your future, I know you’ll take that with you wherever you go.
“I wish you all the best on behalf of the Labour group in whatever the future holds for you.”
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr Rob Walsh said: “I’d like to echo the comments of Cllr Pritchard and Cllr Davies.
“Like Cllr Davies I first met Dr Paterson through my bi-election win in Llay a couple of years ago, and on a personal level I’m very grateful for your support.
“I want to wish you all the best on behalf of not just the current Liberal Democrat group, but former Liberal Democrat councillors i know you’ve worked very closely with over the years
“I believe the first council leader you worked with was the late Cllr Ron Davies, I remember Ron always spoke very highly of you. And members who knew Ron, if Ron spoke highly of someone, you can’t be doing too much wrong.
“On behalf of all the Liberal Democrat group, we wish you all the best for the future and thank you.”
Deputy leader of the Conservative group, Cllr Paul Rogers said: “I’d like to thank the Chief Executive for her service from the Conservative group and wish her all the best in her future.”
Leader of the Plaid Cymru Group, Cllr Marc Jones, wished Dr Paterson all the best in her new role in Walsall, noting: “I have appreciated all the conversations we’ve had over the past few weeks. The door has always been open and it’s been interesting having those conversations.
“Best wishes and thank you.”
Leader of the Wrexham Independent Group, Cllr David A. Bithell concluded the tributes by stating that Dr Paterson has “set the role for reshaping”.
He added: “I would like to echo the comments from the leader of the council.
“I was deputy leader when Cllr Ron Davies was first here when Helen arrived. It doesn’t seems like six years ago, but clearly it is. A lot has gone on, there have been two/three administrations since then.
I echo the comments of the leader, we have gone through a difficult time the past few years and no doubt the next two – three years will be equally as difficult
“What Helen has done, is set the agenda for reshaping. I challenged Helen and I know other members have challenged Helen – but it’s something we needed to do to be in a position to go forward as a council.
“I am sure Walsall will undertake some of those benefits in the near future. All the best from the Wrexham Independent Group.”
Addressing the chamber, Dr Paterson said: “Thank you for your kind words. It has been and continues to be my privilege to serve this council.
“I want to take this time to thank two sets of people. The first set of people I’d like to thank being the staff. All those who who work so hard for this council, for their consistent hard work and for their commitment to the people of Wrexham. That is why they come to work and they are the people that they serve.
“I would also like to thank the late Ron Davies, former councillor Neil Rogers and our leader Cllr Mark Pritchard for their support and political insight.”
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