A man who started his career at 16 on the bottom rung of the local government ladder has been appointed the new Chief Executive of Derbyshire Dales District Council.
Councillors voted unanimously at their Annual Meeting on Thursday (24 May) for current deputy Paul Wilson, 48, to take over the top job at the council from Dorcas Bunton, who is retiring after six years at the helm.
Mr Wilson (pictured above with Dorcas Bunton), who has been at the Derbyshire Dales council in several roles since 1994, started his career in local government straight from school as a trainee.
“One of the things I am quite proud about is that from humble beginnings and a starting point not dissimilar to the apprentices of today I have climbed the career ladder by studying part-time for all my qualifications. Hopefully my example may inspire others to achieve their own goals and potential.
“It will be a privilege to continue to work with the first class team here at Derbyshire Dales to carry on the work achieved in testing times under Dorcas’s excellent stewardship. I look forward to the many challenges and opportunities ahead.”
Graduating in 1995 with Degree of Master Civic Design from the University of Liverpool, Mr Wilson became a Chartered Town Planner the following year and in 2000 gained a Diploma in Management Studies from the Open University. He was appointed the council's Planning Policy Manager in 1997 and then Head of Planning Services in 2000 before becoming Director of Planning and Housing Services in 2011.
Five years ago he was appointed Corporate Director and Deputy Chief Executive.
A Local Government Association Accredited Peer Reviewer, Mr Wilson is a Manchester City season ticket holder and other interests include scuba diving - he is a BSAC Open Water Scuba Instructor.
There was praise for Mr Wilson from all political shades at the Annual Meeting, which heard that a Selection Committee made up of six council members, supported by independent consultants SOLACE (Society of Local Authority Chief Executives) in Business, had found that Mr Wilson met and exceeded all the requirements to become the council’s next Chief Executive.
Panel chair Councillor Albert Catt, who led a rigorous selection process including a range of online psychometric tests, interviews and presentations, told the meeting:
“We were impressed with the results of the exercises completed by Paul and extremely impressed also with Paul's CV and the motivation he has shown throughout his career.
“We also received feedback from partner organisations the council deals with on a regular basis who interviewed Paul. This group felt Paul met every single one of the criteria that had been set out.
“We spent an hour and a half posing questions to Paul and we felt absolutely every confidence we could have in putting this recommendation before you as council to appoint Paul Wilson as Dorcas's successor.
“And what an amazing job Dorcas has done over the last six years to develop all of the people within the organisation, recognising the talents people have and working with them to ensure those talents are used in the very best way. And here we are able to endorse a member of the existing management team as her successor.”
Leader of the Labour opposition group Councillor Mike Ratcliffe, who also sat on the Selection Panel, said:
“It was an easy decision to make. Paul is dedicated and has a passion and commitment to the global community of Derbyshire Dales. He’s not doing a job for the sake of it; he wants the best possible outcomes and benefits for the people of this area.
“I felt I was talking to a chief executive rather than someone who was simply a candidate. He came across with that level of finesse. He has absolutely clear leadership qualities and, above all, he has the support of the staff under him.”
The Liberal Democrats’ Councillor Steve Flitter described Mr Wilson’s presentation as “immaculate and first rate”, adding:
“Back in the 90s when Paul first joined us and I was chair of planning I recall attending with him a bit of a rowdy packed public meeting in Darley Dale. The way Paul handled it made us realise we'd made the right decision to bring him to the Derbyshire Dales. He has great dignity and has given us some excellent advice.”