Under-fire Suffolk council chief says ‘I’m staying put’

UNDER-fire chief executive Andrea Hill has insisted she will remain at the helm of Suffolk County Council.

Mrs Hill told the specialist magazine Municipal Journal that she intended to continue working hard to improve services in the county.

Speculation about Mrs Hill's position has been mounting following the turbulent events of the last few weeks.

The departure of Graham Dixon, director of resource management, and monitoring officer Eric Whitfield on March 31 was followed the next day by the retirement of council leader Jeremy Pembroke.

Mrs Hill took on Mr Dixon's responsibilities, but there has been speculation within Endeavour House that if the new council leader has a different outlook to Mr Pembroke then Mrs Hill could come under pressure to stand down.

However, she told the magazine: 'It's not my intention to leave Suffolk County Council. I'm working hard to deliver the best public services to the people of Suffolk.

'In due course, a new leader will be elected and I look forward to working with them to achieve that objective.'

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Mrs Hill has recently been under the spotlight over the cost of training sessions with a professional coach, the cost of photographs and the cost of hotel stays she made at the council's expense.

•Nominations for the position of leader of the county council have to be submitted by today<15> and the authority's Conservative group will choose their new leader at their annual meeting on Monday.

The 54 councillors seem likely to have a choice of three candidates in the election. Colin Noble, adult and community services portfolio holder, and Guy McGregor, transport and environment portfolio holder, are both standing. They are joined on the ballot paper by Mark Bee who is chairman of the county's scrutiny committee and is also leader of Waveney District Council.

The result of the ballot for the leadership of the Conservative group is due to be announced on Monday, although whoever wins will not take over as leader of the council until its annual meeting on May 26.