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Former advisor to Tony Blair could become Norfolk County Council’s next managing director

16:30 18 March 2014

Dr Wendy Thomson

Dr Wendy Thomson

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The hunt for a new top officer at Norfolk County Council looks close to a conclusion - with a recommendation that a former advisor to Tony Blair becomes the authority’s new managing director.

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Norfolk County Council today announced that the full council will be asked on Monday to appoint Dr Wendy Thomson as the authority’s managing director.

Dr Thomson, 60, currently a director at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, has had a wide ranging career in local and national government.

She has been a chief executive of the London Borough of Newham; assistant chief executive in the London Borough of Islington; director of best value inspection at the Audit Commission and chief executive of charity Turning Point.

She was a founding director of the Office of Public Service Reform - a post in which she advised then prime minister Tony Blair on civil and public service reform, work which saw her recognised with a CBE.

George Nobbs, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “We had a strong field of candidates, but Dr Thomson was the unanimous choice of the cross-party panel.

“Wendy’s appointment will be a significant decision for Norfolk.

“At the same time I want to pay a very sincere tribute to the person who has led the authority for the past year or more. I believe that when people look back on the period of the last 12 months they will agree with me that we can count ourselves especially fortunate to have had Anne Gibson heading up our organisation during this particular testing time.

“During the next few months while Wendy fulfils her contractual obligation in Canada, Anne Gibson will continue to be heading the council’s paid service in the fully admirable and professional way that is a hallmark of all that she does.”

If confirmed by full council, Dr Thomson, who is currently director of the School of Social Work and professor of social policy at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, is expected to take up the post in August.

She said: “I am looking forward to joining Norfolk County Council and helping the organisation realise local people’s priorities: excellence in education, real jobs and a modern infrastructure to support business development.

“These are tough times for local government but I am up for the challenge and pleased to be returning to England to live in this beautiful county.”

Dr Thomson’s career has spanned the Atlantic, with executive posts in Canada and then London. She returned to Canada in 2005 to lead the School of Social Work at McGill, taking up a wide range of advisory roles specialising in social policy, health and social services.

Born in Montreal, Quebec, she obtained a masters of social work at McGill University before moving to England to secure a PhD in social administration at the University of Bristol in England.

She has just submitted a report to the Quebec government on patient-based funding in healthcare from an expert group which she chaired, and served on a three year Commission advising the Ontario government on the reorganisation of their child welfare system.

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