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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Redbridge chief executive resigns

Redbridge Council’s chief executive has stepped down following two  bereavements.

Claire Symonds, who has been chief executive for less than two years, announced she was stepping down on Monday 5 February.

There had been speculation about the former chief executive’s role following her absence at every full council meeting since May last year.

When contacted for comment, Symonds told the Local Democracy Reporting Service she has recently lost two people who were very close to her.

She added: “I am very sorry to leave but at the moment I do not think I can give such an important role the energy and focus it needs.”

During her time at the council she declined to give media interviews, suggesting that public focus should be on politicians, whose “agreed priorities” she was tasked with delivering.

In a statement on its website, Redbridge Council said its corporate director of people Adrian Loades “will continue” as interim chief executive.

It is unclear how long he has been acting in the role, although councillors are understood to have been told that he became interim chief executive in Symond’s absence last year.

Redbridge Council’s leader Jas Athwal said: “Claire’s affection for our borough and for her colleagues has shone through in everything she has achieved in her time as our chief executive and it speaks to her character that she has already had such an enduring impact.”

“The foundation of our council is built on the hard work, dedication, and resilience of its staff.”

Symonds, who grew up locally, joined the council from Barking and Dagenham Council, where she was interim chief executive, in May 2022.

Her predecessor at Redbridge, Lesley Seary, had been interim chief executive since early 2021.

Seary had filled a vacancy left by Andy Donald, who resigned from Redbridge Council in 2020 after five years, claiming he wanted to “reflect” on how he wanted to spend the rest of his career.

In 2022, Donald was appointed chief executive of Haringey Council.

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