CHARD and Ilminster councillors have backed Pat Flaherty’s appointment as Somerset County Council chief executive.
He has been acting chief executive for six months and has worked in a number of roles at County Hall.
Staff were informed of the appointment by council leader Cllr John Osman last Wednesday at a full council meeting in County Hall.
Conservative councillor Linda Vijeh, who represents Ilminster on the county council, said it was heartening to see the relief and support for Mr Flaherty.
She said: “The mood was buoyant on hearing the news at this week’s full council meeting, where it would appear he’ll receive the high level of co-operation he deserves from both officers and members.”
Independent councillor Nigel Pearson (Chard North) said Mr Flaherty is hopefully the right man for the job, adding: “He stepped in and did a good job, he’s a really nice bloke and I think the county did the right thing.”
Lib Dem Jill Shortland said: “It’s an exceptionally good appointment and we need to get behind him – he needs to have support and we need to listen to him.
“I have full confidence in his ability.”
Mr Osman said Mr Flaherty had impressed all at the council, leading it through the floods and taking a personal lead in achieving a balanced budget.”
He said: “I’ve always looked to promote talent from within wherever appropriate.”
Mr Flaherty said he was “excited and proud”, adding: “I’m ambitious for our council, for our staff and for our residents.
“I want the best we can provide and I will work hard on behalf of everyone to achieve that. We have huge opportunities over the coming years and need to aim high.”
Previous chief executive Sheila Wheeler resigned from her £160,000 post this year after being absent for several months.
In an email last week Mr Flaherty, whose annual salary is £150,000, thanked people who supported him in his role as acting chief executive.
He said: “We have challenges ahead of us – we all know that – but what I want to stress to you all first is the tremendous amount of good that we do in our day jobs.
“We sometimes beat ourselves up too much and I want that to change. I want to acknowledge and to celebrate.”