Council appoints its first female chief executive

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Merran McRae is set to become the new chief executive of Calderdale Council.

She will be the first woman to hold the position since the council was set up in 1974.

Ms McRae replaces Owen Williams, who left in May to become the chief executive of the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust.

Her appointment is due to be confirmed at tomorrrow night’s council meeting.

Currently director of Wellbeing and Communities at Kirklees Council, over the past four years, Merran has been responsible for the biggest spending directorate in the council, which includes communities and leisure and adult social care services.

The directorate has a council-wide strategic lead on issues such as wellbeing and inequalities, relationships with the voluntary and community sector and connecting communities to public services, and provides services designed to improve the quality of life of both communities and individuals.

Other experience at Kirklees includes being the director of housing, which involved working closely with Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing.

More recently Merran has been instrumental in taking forward the Shadow Health and Wellbeing Board and has developed close working relations with Public Health colleagues ready for their move into Kirklees Council later this year.

Her involvement in supporting communities includes developing a new sports facility as well as working closely with the voluntary community sector during difficult times of change.

Merran’s other current roles include being the Joint Chair of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) and Branch Secretary/Vice Chair of Yorkshire and Humberside Association Directors of Adult Social Care.

Before joining Kirklees Council, Merran worked as the chief executive for Aire Valley Homes, for six years. Her other experience includes holding the position of area director for Hull City Council.

She lives in Leeds with her partner Peter and 13-year-old son Luke.

“I am absolutely delighted to have been selected as Calderdale Council’s new chief executive. Calderdale has an excellent reputation, both on a regional and national level,” she said.

The council’s Labour Tim Swift, said the appointment was made from an exceptionally strong field of candidates.

“I am delighted that Merran is joining us and I know that she will bring with her a unique blend of experience and enthusiasm which will help the Council move forward in the future.”

It is expected that Merran will take up her new appointment with the council in the autumn.