BLACKBURN with Darwen Council's former chief executive has stepped out of retirement to help another council through transition.

Harry Catherall, 56, has been appointed interim chief executive at St Helens Council as the authority searches for a new permanent boss.

Mr Catherall only retired as chief executive of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council in May following four decades in local government.

His appointment was cemented on Wednesday by the council’s appointments committee, which was partly heard in private.

Councillors also agreed to begin the recruitment process for a permanent chief executive, strategic director for place services and assistant chief executive.

This follows the departure of chief executive Mike Palin and interim assistant chief executive Keith Ireland, who joined the council in April on a consultancy basis to help lead its modernisation plans.

St Helens Council said Mr Catherall has been “instrumental” in shaping and influencing government policy on key public service reform agendas ranging from health integration and educational achievement to cohesion and children’s and adult social care.

Through an innovative Growth Board, he secured record levels of private sector capital investment in new infrastructure, housing and town centre development.

Mr Catherall will take up his new role as of Monday, October 7.

On accepting his new appointment, Mr Catherall said: “I am proud to be joining St Helens at this time, and look forward to bringing my experience here to help build on the work that has started, working alongside councillors, staff, local communities and partners to make a real difference to local people’s lives.”

Mr Catherall started his career as an apprentice accountant at his local council in Tameside aged 16.

Later in his career he moved into management at Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council before joining Blackburn with Darwen Council in 1997.

He became chief executive in 2012 until he retired in May.

Speaking back in November, Blackburn with Darwen Council leader Mohammed Khan, said: “Harry has very high standards. He’s extremely hard working and determined.

“Above all he’s humble and always passionate about making sure we do the best for the people we serve, especially those who need help the most.

“His integrity, attention to detail and persistence is why we have remained bold and ambitious in very challenging times.

“We’ve definitely been lucky to have him for so long. I’ve worked very closely with him and I will really miss his open and honest approach.

“He has our full respect and we wish him a happy and long well-deserved retirement.”