GALLERY: Tributes to retiring Fenland Council chief executive at farewell party
OFFICERS, councillors and the press were asked to leave the chamber at Fenland Hall without explanation on Wednesday - but to be sure to return within 20 minutes.
When they did return they found the tables and chairs had been pushed back, balloons scattered around and a traditional English tea party laid out for a farewell party to Fenland District Council chief executive Sandra Claxton.
As the chief executive herself returned to the chamber - after being present at her final meeting - she was greeted with enthusiastic applause and ‘exploding’ party poppers as the party got under way.
Council leader Alan Melton explained that it was not simply about saying thank you to Mrs Claxton for her eight years in Fenland but for her 43 years in local government.
He paid tribute to her length of service and career which spanned working for local authorities such as Lambeth, Kent, Havering and Kensington and Chelsea.
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Cllr Melton said: “The public sector comes in for a lot of criticism and people who work in the public sector can come in for a lot of criticism.
“But Sandra had been part of that crucial ‘silent’ group advising us and at times cautioning us and as chief executive she has been crucial to the success of running this council.
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“Her career has been nothing but success upon success. I have really enjoyed working it and it has been a fantastic period for Fenland.”
He told her: “We will always appreciate what you have done for Fenland.”
Former council leader Geoff Harper also attended the party and spoke of the success Mrs Claxton had enjoyed.
He said her achievements could be measured by looking around the chamber and seeing the number of accolades and awards which her work had helped to bring about.
The former leader said, however, that the award he feels Mrs Claxton should most be proud of was that of the Audit Commission which labelled Fenland an excellent council.