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Council chief to retire after 40 years’ service to local government

Published Wednesday 28 November 2018 at 16:01

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council’s Chief Executive Harry Catherall, the unitary authority’s longest serving chief officer, will retire next Easter after a successful 40 year career in local government.

He will officially hand over in May to his deputy Denise Park who he’s worked closely with throughout his 21 years at the Council.

Earlier this year Harry celebrated the Council being named the national Local Authority of the Year in the prestigious Municipal Journal awards.

He said:

I’ve always seen my job as a real honour. I’m very grateful I’ve been part of something special, spending so much time working with very talented people who are fully focused on aiming high for Blackburn and Darwen.

There have been many highlights, I’m particularly proud of the improvements in education attainment for our young people and the growth in apprenticeships.

From day one, providing the best possible support for the most vulnerable people in the community has been a high priority. I take great pride seeing children and families benefitting at our outstanding children’s centres right through to an amazing high standard of care for disabled adults and older people in the new extra care housing facilities.

The last ten years have undoubtedly been tough for this Council because of the unprecedented budget reductions.

We have continued to invest for the future with a focus on skills, business growth and keeping our town centres vibrant. One example is the successful Cathedral Quarter development which has been delivered against all the odds and is proving to be game changer for the borough.

I see great community spirit every day, the way people pull together on any given issue is just brilliant, I very much feel part of it all and I will be keeping my links.

Council leader, Mohammed Khan, said:

Harry has very high standards; he’s extremely hard working and determined.  Above all he’s humble and always passionate about making sure we do the best for the people we serve; especially those who need help the most.

His integrity, attention to detail and persistence is why we have remained bold and ambitious in very challenging times. We’ve definitely been lucky to have him for so long.  I’ve worked very closely with him and I will really miss his open and honest approach. He has our full respect and we wish him a happy and long well-deserved retirement.

Harry started his career as an apprentice accountant at the age of 16 at his local Council, Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council. He moved into management at Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, joining Blackburn with Darwen Council in 1997 as it prepared to be a unitary council. He has been chief executive since 2012.

Denise, a qualified accountant, has worked at the Council for 20 years in a variety of senior roles.

Harry added:

I’m very proud that Denise is taking over the role.  She is an outstanding and talented individual, with all the qualities needed to manage the Council through its next phase.

A report to next week’s full Council meeting (Thursday, December 6) will confirm the proposals.

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