£170k a year chief executive retires from two councils

Chief executive Gillian Beasley

Chief executive Gillian Beasley will retire this year from Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council. She has been at the forefront of the county's response to the coronavirus pandemic. - Credit: CCC

Chief executive Gillian Beasley is to retire as the £170,000 a year chief executive of Cambridgeshire County Council and of Peterborough City Council.  

Nineteen years after she took the helm at Peterborough, and six years after she was appointed to run both councils, she has decided the time is right to step down.  

Gillian, 64, began her working career in 1983 as a trainee lawyer with Leeds City Council and over the years has worked her way to the top of the tree.  

In 2008 she was awarded an OBE for her work in local government.  

Her deputy chief executive at Cambridgeshire, Chris Malyon, retired recently. 

Her departure will almost certainly mean the ending of the arrangement with Peterborough as the incoming rainbow alliance at Shire Hall has ordered an immediate freeze on all shared appointments at director level or above.  

Ms Beasley has been at the forefront of co-ordinating Cambridgeshire’s response to the Covid-19 and has been widely praised for her efforts.  

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She told senior Conservative councillors of her intentions earlier in the year but carried on until the Covid-19 pandemic was seen to be have eased.  

Her departure is unconnected with the farmgate inquiry into the tenancy awarded to former deputy county leader Roger Hickford. That inquiry report is to be discussed shortly by the new audit and accounts committee. 

A year ago, at the height of the pandemic, she gave a YouTube interview with former BBC local radio presenter Paul Stainton.  

In it she explained how the coronavirus pandemic had challenged her like nothing else in her career. 

She described the pressure as “unrelenting in terms of the responsibilities as a council, but with all of the other people that work together to keep the show on the road. 

“There are times when you hit rock bottom, you’re tired, you’ve worked a huge number of hours, and then there’s a story that comes in of somebody who’s done something amazing and you just go ‘wow’.” 

She also explained how she would often work until late at night reading through government papers and updates.  

She told Paul: “I am worried, I am concerned, but that’s not going to debilitate me, that’s not going to paralyse me into inaction. It’s going to do the opposite - it’s going to galvanise me into action to make sure we do support people well, even in those difficult times.”