Laura McGillivray, chief executive of Norwich City Council for 14 years, is to step down from her role later this year.
Since joining the city council in 2006, Ms McGillivray has helped steer the authority through an important improvement journey. This has seen a complete turnaround in a number of poorly performing service areas including housing, planning and finance. As a result, the council is now well respected as well as award winning.
Ms McGillivray said: “I’ve been working at board level in local government for 22 years, served six councils and been involved in a huge range of fascinating and challenging issues. But now I think it’s time for a change so I’ve decided to step down as chief executive of Norwich City Council at Christmas.
“This has been an extraordinarily difficult decision for me as I’ve absolutely loved working for the council. I’m immensely proud of the city council’s success stories and achievements which have been due to dedicated, committed and wonderful staff, strong and inspirational leadership by councillors and the magnificent collaboration between organisations which help to serve the city and county.
“After almost 14 years here it felt like time to hand the reins over to someone who can see the city council through the next part of its journey.
“I love this city so I plan to stay here and find other ways to contribute to the civic life of Norwich but in the meantime I’m looking forward to having more time on my hands to spend with my two daughters and granddaughter.”
Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council, said: “During her time as chief executive, Laura has given exceptional service to the council and the city.
“She will be greatly missed. But she leaves this council in a strong position at a time when local government is under continued pressure from deep funding cuts.
“I know that I speak on behalf of the council and our key partners in wishing Laura all the very best for the future.”
The chief executive post for the city council will be advertised shortly.
Having started out as a social worker for Liverpool City Council in the mid-1970s, after a spell in London which included working for the greater London Enterprise Board, Ms McGillivray returned to working for local authorities in 1991 when she joined Milton Keynes council. She remained there until 2000 as head of policy and communications, having led the council to unitary status in 1997.
From there she took on the role of deputy chief executive at the City of York Council from 2003-05. This led to her appointment as chief executive of Norwich City Council in 2006 (to present).
During her time at Norwich, Ms McGillivray also worked closely with a number of organisations in various non-executive and committee roles. This included being a council member at the University of East Anglia, a board member for the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and a governor at Norwich University of the Arts.
Other current roles include being chair of the Norfolk County Community Safety Partnership which includes Domestic Homicide Review Oversight and Norfolk County Lines Strategy Group.
During Laura’s time as Chief executive Norwich City Council scored many notable achievements and awards
In 2009 Norwich City Council signed a ground-breaking partnership with the government’s housing and regeneration body, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).
This resulted in the HCA investing £8 million in the city which paid for the refurbishment of the Memorial Gardens in the heart of the city which reopened in 2011.
The funding also helped to pay for the eco-retrofit of several thousand council properties; construction of the skate park at Eaton Park in July 2010, and kick-started the delivery of 172 new homes for what has become the Rayne Park development at Three Score in Bowthorpe.
Norwich City Council was crowned winner of the gold award for ‘Council of the Year’ in the 2014 iESE Improvement and Efficiency Awards.
The Goldsmith Street housing development (100 per cent social housing and 100 per cent Passivhaus) won the Housing Design Award in 2016, featured in The Times top 10 in the world for new architecture in 2018 and has been shortlisted for the Stirling Prize – the first housing scheme of any kind ever to be shortlisted.
The city council was named ‘Most Improved Council’ in the Local Government Chronicle (LGC) Awards in 2014.
In 2018 the city council commissioned the ‘Pathways’ project – an ambitious and innovative scheme which brings together eight specialist organisations who provide support for rough sleepers.
Norwich Eye Editor, Julian Swainson, adds: ‘I had many encounters with Laura both in my work as a councillor and more recently while working to produce the Norwich Eye hyperlocal news website. I have always found her to be interesting and engaging and approachable, and under her calm guidance Norwich City Council seems to have rediscovered a sense of progress and purpose. Appointing an effective Chief Executive is a key task for councillors in ensuring that voters feel they have an accountable and effective local authority and Laura will be a hard act to follow.’