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27 May 2021

Cumbria County Council announces appointment of new Chief Executive

Today Cumbria County Council has announced that it has offered Gill Steward the role as its new Chief Executive.

The recommendation to appoint is still subject to formal agreement by Cumbria County Council at its Full Council meeting in June 2021.  

Once agreed by Full Council, Gill will take over from the existing Chief Executive, Katherine Fairclough, and is expected to start her new role in early August.

Gill is an experienced and skilled public sector leader. She has worked at Chief Executive and Executive Director level. Currently Chair of the CLES, a leading economic think tank, her recent roles include Chief Executive for the London Borough of Bexley and Interim Chief Executive at West Sussex County Council. Gill has a background in economic development, place and community services and was part of the Executive team at Cornwall Council who took Cornwall successfully through the unitary process.

Commenting on her appointment, Gill Steward said:

“I am delighted to be joining Cumbria County Council as the council’s new Chief Executive and I am looking forward to building on its very successful reputation and the fantastic work of Katherine.  

“Cumbria is a very special place and I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to work with the county’s leaders, partners, communities and the council’s fantastic employees to help shape its future.

“This is a critical time for Cumbria - the challenges of Recovery and Local Government Reorganisation are significant, but Cumbria has a huge opportunity not only to recover but to build a better place and future for the people of Cumbria.”

Cllr Stewart Young, Leader of Cumbria County Council and Leader of the Labour Group, said:

“I’m delighted with this appointment and I am looking forward to working closely with Gill. She brings with her the perfect range of skills, experience and leadership that we need now and for the future. I am genuinely looking forward to working together with her to make the changes we need to deliver council services differently for our residents, both now and in the future.”

Cllr Peter Thornton, Deputy Leader of Cumbria County Council and Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group said:

“Gill brings to Cumbria a wide range of experience that will be invaluable as we face the strong likelihood of reorganisation in the very near future. This is obviously a key role for Cumbria, ensuring that we remain on our already established journey of transformation and improvement, a  journey that is key to us meeting the challenges ahead and ensuring that Cumbria does not get left behind as we look for investment from both government and the private sector.”


Cllr Hilary Carrick, Leader of the Conservative Group said:

“I am delighted with the final outcome, Gill’s appointment was the unanimous decision of the committee. Having had the pleasure of meeting her as part of the interviews it was obvious that Gill is a skilled and experienced local government leader who shares our high aspirations for Cumbria.

“She is also very balanced and grounded, and I feel that she will bring with her all of the skills that we need at this pivotal time.”



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Today Cumbria County Council has announced that it has offered Gill Steward the role as its new Chief Executive.