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Debbie Ward

The Chief Executive is the senior officer who leads and takes responsibility for the work of the 14,039 paid staff of the council, who run the local authority on a day to day basis. The role of the Chief Executive is a full-time appointment.

Employed in this role since: November 2012

The Chief Executive of the county council also acts as Clerk to the Dorset Lieutenancy.

By law, senior council staff are not allowed to participate in any party political activity and are expected to advise and assist all councillors irrespective of their political affiliation.

As head of the paid service, the Chief Executive works closely with elected members to deliver the following:

Leadership: working with elected members to ensure strong and visible leadership and direction, encouraging and enabling managers to motivate and inspire their teams

Strategic Direction: ensuring all staff understand and adhere to the strategic aims of the organisation and follow the direction set by the elected members

Policy Advice: acting as the principal policy adviser to the elected members of the council to lead the development of workable strategies which will deliver the political objectives set by the councillors

Partnerships: leading and developing strong partnerships across the local community to achieve improved outcomes and better public services for local people

Operational Management: overseeing financial and performance management, risk management, people management and change management within the council

The below is an outline of the Chief Executive's job description and key responsibilities:

  1. As Head of Paid Service to act as lead manager of the authority
  2. To be the lead advisor to the County Council
  3. To manage the corporate functioning of the authority to secure the development, implementation and maintenance of corporate and strategic policy, having regard to best value in the provision of services.
  4. To act as the Authority's principal policy adviser and give advice at Council and committee meetings.
  5. To promote and maintain effective relationships between political and managerial processes.
  6. To lead fundamental reviews of the County Council's services to secure efficiency, economy and effectiveness in service provision; encourage businesslike thinking and the adoption of appropriate commercial practices.
  7. To ensure that there is effective communication both internally and with the general and business communities so as to promote the County Council's services within the community, and responsiveness by the authority to the community's needs.
  8. To ensure that the authority has a well managed, motivated and performance orientated workforce through the adoption of relevant, up to date management practices.
  9. To ensure that the authority remains up to date and compliant with all relevant legislation, organisational procedures, policies and professional codes of conduct in order to uphold standards of best practice.
  10. To lead and motivate people within the organisation and externally in developing joint partnerships, which act to provide improved services or benefit the residents of the County.
  11. To build effective partnerships with key stakeholders within the community, in government and other public bodies, the voluntary sector and the business community, and undertake such external representation of the Council as agreed with the Cabinet.
  12. To promote and facilitate community engagement.

Salary and benefits: Debbie Ward - salary and benefits.

The council

The council is a large organisation but one of the smaller county councils, it is responsible for providing or commissioning a range of services, a full list of these can be found on the website A - Z. The total annual budget is in excess of £625 million and the capital programme is around £270 million over the next three years.

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