‘Flintshire’s loss is Wrexham’s gain’, it’s been claimed as a former chief officer moves across the county border to become chief executive.
Councillors in Flintshire have bid a fond farewell to Ian Bancroft, who started his new job in Wrexham at the start of September.
There was unanimous praise for Mr Bancroft at a full council meeting in Mold following his four-year stint, in which he oversaw a number of major organisational changes.
Chief executive Colin Everett said he was already greatly missed by staff and elected members.
He said: “In tough times we’re a close-knit team and Ian’s certainly been a key player in that.
“It’s very unusual to have a senior colleague, however able everybody is, where you can say they pretty much delivered everything you asked them to do.
“Ian made a tremendous impact with a lot of energy in an area that was very creative.
“Ian’s loss is someone’s gain, and we perhaps use that term excessively, but the great thing is that Ian is not just still part of the Welsh network, he’s part of the north Wales network.”
For the last 14 years, Mr Bancroft from Ruabon, has worked in leadership roles at public organisations in Manchester, Merseyside and north east Wales.
He took over the role from Dr Helen Paterson, who left Wrexham Council after six years to take up the position of chief executive at Walsall.
During his first week in Wrexham, he admitted it was a challenging time to take a top local government role, but pledged to lobby for more money on behalf of residents.
He was also commended by leader of Flintshire Councl, Aaron Shotton, who said he helped the county retain several important community facilities at a time when austerity measures hit its finances hard.
He said: “More localised to my town is the work Ian did alongside his team in seeing the transfer of Connah’s Quay Swimming Pool from a local authority operation to a community-based model.
“Ian sat there with me, and I listened to Ian address a very packed civic hall in Connah’s Quay, where there were fears for the future of the swimming baths.
“From that meeting, to see the skill, the style and the approach that Ian brought to the role in working with communities, I think that is his greatest attribute amongst many that has borne fruit in this authority.
“It has enabled us to work with communities to develop models that have protected services.”
In response to the comments, Mr Bancroft said he would continue to work closely with Flintshire in his new role.
In recent years, controversial proposals to force a merger between Wrexham and Flintshire councils caused some ructions between the two authorities. However, the plans were abandoned in June by Local Government Secretary Alun Davies, and Mr Bancroft believes there is a will for them to collaborate.
Addressing his former colleagues, he said: “It’s really bizarre to sit in the guest seats and it’s very humbling to hear all your kind words.
“Can I just say how much I’ve enjoyed working in Flintshire and working with you as councillors.
“I wish you every success moving forward, and I’m sure I will be working with you in many ways in the future.
“It’s not just a job being a public servant, it’s a huge responsibility and an honour and a privilege.”
Earlier this month Wrexham.com had the chance pose several questions to Mr Bancroft – you can read the interview here.
Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter (more here on the LDR scheme).