Suffolk County Council chief executive Andrea Hill on extended leave

Suffolk County Council's �218,000 a year chief executive Andrea Hill is taking extended leave after returning home from a holiday in America.

Suffolk County Council's �218,000 a year chief executive Andrea Hill is taking extended leave after returning home from a holiday in America.

A statement from the county council confirmed the move when she did not return to work at Endeavour House in Ipswich yesterday.

Jane Storey, acting Leader of Suffolk County Council, said: 'Andrea is on extended leave as agreed by myself as acting leader.'

The council's 12-word statement gave no reasons for the decision, and it did not mention any plans for a return to work for Mrs Hill.

The news that the chief executive was not at her desk spread through the offices yesterday, although it was not until the end of the afternoon that confirmation came through that she will be away for the immediate future.

Mrs Hill went on holiday on April 18, just hours after Mark Bee was elected new leader of the Conservative group at the council in succession to Jeremy Pembroke, the man who appointed Mrs Hill.

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Mr Bee is due to take over as leader of the authority at its annual meeting on May 26 and is believed to be moving the authority in a new direction having already reprieved the threatened school crossing patrols.

With Mr Pembroke, Mrs Hill is seen as a key architect of the county's controversial New Strategic Direction and told members of staff in March that she believes in the policy and is determined to work hard to make it successful.

Mrs Hill's continued absence leaves the senior management of the county in limbo – the director of resource management Graham Dixon and monitoring officer Eric Whitfield left at the end of March.

Acting leader Jane Storey is understood to be working closely with Mr Bee to ensure that existing managers are given the support they need as the council prepares for its new cabinet to be appointed at the end of the month.

Mrs Hill is being supported by the Association of Local Authority Chief Executives (ALACE).

Its honorary secretary, Mary Orton, said: 'Andrea is a first-class chief executive and she has our complete support.'

Mrs Hill's salary has been a controversial point and she has refused to take a reduction, despite being urged to do so by Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles and having her salary commented upon by Prime Minister David Cameron.

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