Former lifeguard takes the helm at Fenland council

A man who started work as a lifeguard at a swimming pool has started work as chief executive at Fenland District Council.

Paul Medd, who takes over from Sandra Claxton this week, started out as a lifeguard at a council swimming pool in Scarborough, in 1994.

Now aged 40, Mr Medd's career has included jobs in both the public and private sectors as well as a three-year stint with a charitable trust working with adults with learning disabilities.

He joined FDC in 2006 and has contributed to the major transformation of the council that has taken place over the past eight years.

'As chief executive I believe you have to lead by example and show strong, supportive leadership across the organisation,' he said. 'You also need to understand the issues that are most important to local people and our staff. I recognise the tremendous passion and pride that Fenland people have for their communities and I share that passion.

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'It's easy to talk about my role but it's not really about me. It's about the elected members, the staff and, most importantly, the people of Fenland. Our residents deserve top-quality services and that's what we have provided through our strong culture and collective approach with members.'

Mr Medd said there were three main challenges facing Fenland.

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'The first is that clearly there's more work to be done on efficiency savings,' he said. 'The world of local government finance is changing and one key challenge is continuing to have a financially well run authority, as we have in the past.

'We've done a really good job to deliver the efficiency savings we've had to make and in doing so the council has sought to protect frontline services that are so important to local people. When you consider where we were in June last year, that's a remarkable achievement, given the resources that have been taken away from us. It's a credit to strong political leadership and decisive officer support.'

Mr Medd said the second challenge was delivering sustainable growth, while the third was to deliver good services.

Anger erupted earlier this year when council leader Alan Melton suggested developers should be freed of the obligation to carry out archaeological surveys, warning: 'The bunny huggers won't like it.'

Mr medd said: 'I'm fortunate in that I've got a very good relationship with the leader, Alan Melton, the cabinet and members in general.'

'Continuing to build that relationship is incredibly important because you read some real horror stories about other councils where the member-officer relationship has broken down and effectively derailed the organisation in terms of delivery.

'Essentially, we're all here - members and officers alike - to do our best for the people of Fenland. That's not easy and it's not always easy to keep everyone happy. But what matters is delivering for local people and doing all we can to improve their quality of life. We must never - and will never - lose sight of that.'

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