Rother council appoints new chief executive

Rother District Council has appointed a new chief executive.

Tuesday, 6th October 2020, 4:27 pm
Malcolm Johnston, Rother District Council

Members unanimously appointed Malcolm Johnston on Monday (October 5). 

The appointment, initially for one year, comes as part of a major restructuring of the council’s senior management team, which has seen the existing executive director roles replaced. 

Speaking after the vote, Mr Johnston said: “Thank you members for appointing me to this role on the council.

“It’s a role I am honoured to take on and you have my assurance that I will lead … in delivering the aims and objectives of this council. 

“I think I am very privileged to do this role and I am very proud to be leading such a fantastic bunch of staff.”

Councillors paid tribute to outgoing executive director Dr Tony Leonard.

They spoke of projects he had worked on over the years; including Rye Swimming Pool and the regeneration of both Bexhill seafront and the De La Warr Pavilion 

Council leader Doug Oliver said: “There is not a lot I can add to the accolades that have been bestowed upon Tony Leonard here this evening. 

“If you asked him a question he had this sort of archival memory capacity that he would immediately be able to relate to something and if you were to drop him a line on something he would reply immediately with a link as to the previous history on a specific matter

“A professional. Totally committed and it has been a pleasure to work with him for these last 18 months as leader … and before that.

“I had the opportunity to speak in person with Tony last week and I really do wish him well. It’s an exciting time for him I hear and I really do wish him well on every aspect.”

Tributes were also paid by Conservative group leader Carl Maynard, although he reiterated his party’s opposition to the restructuring of the council’s management. 

Previously Conservatives have described the restructure as a ploy to “get rid” of Dr Leonard, a charge the Alliance administration strongly denies. 

Cllr Maynard said: “What worries me is, in losing Tony Leonard, we’ve lost one of the most experienced officers and more than that somebody who is prepared to see [a project], a controversial project perhaps, through from inception to its delivery. 

“That is something you can’t buy in cheaply and I do believe very strongly that it was a false economy to actually reorganise the structure of this authority and that Tony Leonard will be sorely missed.”

Tributes were also paid by Mr Johnston, who said: “He and I have worked closely together for some 12 and half years now and I have greatly valued his help and support over that time.

“His contribution to this district is immense and many members have referred to that over the last few minutes, but he will be very much missed by me and his colleagues in the council.”