Man at the top exits stage left

STEVE DOWNES It ain't over 'til the chief executive sings. On Monday, the man who has led Norfolk County Council for a decade grabbed his guitar and exercised his vocal cords to deliver a grand finale before exiting stage left.

STEVE DOWNES

It ain't over 'til the chief executive sings.

Yesterday, the man who has led Norfolk County Council for a decade grabbed his guitar and exercised his vocal cords to deliver a grand finale before exiting stage left.

Tim Byles put his own lyrics to the song Wouldn't it be Lovely, at the end of a leaving party to mark his departure from Norfolk's top job to take over as chief executive of Partnerships for Schools.

The show-stopping finale at County Hall came after a drinks and nibbles reception, followed by a series of speeches.

Council leader Shaun Murphy paid tribute to Mr Byles. He said: "I'm delighted to be able to say thank-you to Tim, who I've greatly enjoyed working with. He's served Norfolk County Council and the county at large so well for so long."

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Celia Cameron, former leader of the council and the Labour group, praised Mr Byles for his success in encouraging chief officers and councillors to work more closely together, and for driving forward Norfolk's economic development.

Liberal Democrat leader Barbara Hacker told a story of how Mr Byles had once persuaded Lotus to lend him a car for a conference at Scarborough.

She said: "He came to the car to set off for home, but it had been modified by local people and he had to drive

all the way home without a windscreen."

Mr Byles, who leaves on Friday to take up his new job at the end of the month, was presented with a cartoon by EDP cartoonist Tony Hall, a message from Keith Skipper, and a mock-up front page of the EDP.

He said: "I want to encourage all of you to keep thinking the big thoughts. This is a great county with a special character."