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Blackburn with Darwen council chief to move on
THE chief executive of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council is to stand down after six years in charge.
Graham Burgess will take over as boss of troubled Wirral council in his native Merseyside for two years after working out his three-month notice period, it will be announced today.
The 60-year-old then plans to retire from local government altogether.
Everton fan Mr Burgess took over at the helm of Blackburn's administration in October 2006 when it was a Labour borough but six months later found himself steering a new Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition through choppy political waters.
In September 2010, Labour resumed power and he found himself preparing the council for major government-inspired spending and job cuts.
Mr Burgess came to Blackburn in 1998 soon after it became an all-purpose authority as executive director for regeneration tasked with reviving the town centre, its business base and housing stock.
After a national recruitment process, he was chosen from a four-strong shortlist to take the top officers job running a major authority with more than 3,000 staff and a budget of more than £150 million.
Mr Burgess, who is married with two children and still lives on Merseyside, said: “I will miss Blackburn and the council. I was asked by the Local Government Association and Wirral council to take the job as interim chief executive there for two years.
“As I was planning to retire anyway, I decided to take it. I like a challenge!
“My highlights as chief executive were Blackburn with Darwen winning council of the year for the second time in 2010-2011 and the regeneration of the town centre and the economic development along the M65 corridor.
“My worst moments were having to prepare the council for major spending cuts and redundancies. I think I leave the council in good shape with a strong officer team for the future despite the difficult times ahead.”
Labour leader Kate Hollern, who appointed him, said: “We will miss Graham. He has done a good job for Blackburn with Darwen in some very difficult times. I wish him all the best in Wirral.”
Tory opposition leader Michael Lee said: “I am disappointed he is going. He has done a good job.”