Council parts company with another senior executive

Troubled Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council has announced that Helen Lockwood is set to leave the local authority.

This is the first visible effect of the very recent appointment of interim chief executive, Harry Catherall. He took office on 26th August, 2021.

Helen is joining Bury Hospice, which this year celebrates its 30th Anniversary, as chief executive. She joined the executive team at the Council in January, 2015 from Rossendale Borough Council and has, more recently, held deputy and acting chief executive roles in Oldham.

The appointment at the Hospice is a good fit, not least because she lives in the area.

The staff at both the Council and the Hospice were told at 2pm today. A public announcement is expected to be made later today.

Stuart Page, Hospice trustees chairman, said: “Helen is an exceptionally experienced senior manager with over 30 years local government experience working in a blended health and local government leadership environment.

“Over the past 20 years she has held leadership positions at Manchester City Council, Rossendale Borough Council and has spent the last seven years of her career at directorate level within Oldham Council.

“She is incredibly well respected across Greater Manchester and her extensive connections and influence across the health and social care sector will prove invaluable as we continue to mould our strategic direction, playing a key role within palliative and end of life care in Bury.”

She will oversee a team of 70 staff and more than 400 volunteers.

Dr Carolyn Wilkins, the former chief executive left the Council on 23rd August, 2021. Carolyn and Helen had worked together previously at Rossendale.

An Oldham Council spokesperson said of Mrs Lockwood’s departure:

“One of Oldham Council’s most senior officers is set to leave the authority, to take up the post of Chief Executive at Bury Hospice.

“Helen Lockwood has been with the council for the last seven years, most recently in the role of deputy chief executive. Prior to that, she held senior roles in both Manchester and Rossendale councils.

Helen said: “I’ve very much enjoyed my time here in Oldham, and will miss the place and its people. However, now is the right time for me to move on to a fresh challenge, in a sector that is close to my heart.”

Cllr Arooj Shah, Leader of Oldham Council, said: “During her time in Oldham Helen has provided leadership through the most challenging of times; most recently playing her part within Team Oldham to deliver the very best services to our residents during the Coronavirus pandemic. I wish her all the very best for the future.”

A notorious and disgraced Tameside-based political activist, Raja Miah, said at the beginning of August that Rebekah Sutcliffe, the Council’s Director of Strategy and Communications, had been ‘forced out’ of her job. He asserted that his claim was backed by ‘very reliable civic centre sources’. As with many other similar posts on his now-banned Recusant Nine Facebook page, there didn’t appear to be any factual or evidential basis.

Oldham Council issued a statement shortly afterwards confirming that ‘the employment status of Miss Sutcliffe was unchanged’.

Miah is presently on extended bail over suspicions of racially aggravated public order and malicious communications offences. He is also subject to an overnight curfew. A ‘dawn raid’ arrest was executed on 23rd July, 2021 as part of Operation Hexagon, an investigation into child sex abuse allegations. Raja Miah strongly denies any wrongdoing and claims his arrest was ‘politically motivated’ (read more here).

Page last updated: Thursday 9th June, 2021 at 1725 hrs

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© Neil Wilby 2015-2021. Unauthorised use, or reproduction, of the material contained in this article, without permission from the author, is strictly prohibited. Extracts from, and links to, the article (or blog) may be used, provided that credit is given to Neil Wilby, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Published by Neil Wilby

Former Johnston Press area managing director. Justice campaigner. Freelance investigative journalist.

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