Havering Council’s new chief puts communication at top of agenda

Havering's new chief executive Andrew Blake-Herbert

Havering's new chief executive Andrew Blake-Herbert - Credit: Archant

Tough times are ahead Havering Council’s new chief executive has warned, but he’s determined to ensure the borough’s residents have a voice.

Andrew Blake-Herbert, deputy to outgoing chief executive Cheryl Coppell, will take the top job from May 18.

He said: “I’m very excited about the opportunity to keep taking Havering forward.”

Despite this excitement Mr Blake-Herbert knows tough decisions await him with further budget cuts planned.

He said: “The council is going to have to change how it operates.

“We are going to have to get leaner and meaner about what the council does and how it operates.”

Mr Blake-Herbert, 46, began his career as a trainee accountant in a local authority going on to work for many councils in varying departments.

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For the last year he has stepped into the chief executive role two days a week, after Mrs Coppell reduced her working hours.

With changes inevitable at Havering Council Mr Blake-Herbert said his focus would be on improving transparency.

He said: “We need to get out there engaging with local people in a better way. We need to be more transparent about what we do and why we do it and what we are not going to do in the future.”

“We will have to look long and hard at what the council does and what schemes are delivered.

“There are some we will have to stop doing but by working with partners we may be able to see them delivered another way.”

Mr Blake Herbert believes the borough is in a good position to benefit from ongoing discussions around the devolution of powers from central government and is excited about ongoing plans.

He said: “We’ve got some really exciting regeneration projects, including two housing zones in Rainham and Romford which hopefully will deliver local housing for local people and an opportunity to change the offering in the borough and make it a success for the future.”

The new chief executive is clear about the role of the council.

He said: “We are there to support local people. We have got to make sure we are delivering what local people need, in particular the most vulnerable in society.”