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Camden Council chief Mike Cooke to retire

Praise for council chief executive who is 'one of the most forward-thinking leaders'

01 October, 2018 — By William McLennan

Camden Council’s chief executive is to retire after seven years in the top job.

Mike Cooke, who has been with at the Town Hall for 14 years and spent half that time in charge, told staff today that he will be leaving at the end of March next year.

Mr Cooke’s tenure came during unprecedented austerity cuts to local authority funding by central government.

He has led the council through a series of challenging situations, including the London-wide housing crisis and the evacuation of the Chalcots estate.

Mr Cooke told colleagues today: “We have made huge strides forward, dealt as well as we possibly could with a period of national austerity, achieved much and we are now widely respected as a leading council which is innovating and making a difference.”

The Community Investment Programme – by which publicly owned-real estate is sold to fund the building of new homes and schools – is among the innovative initiatives implemented under his tenure.

Council leader Georgia Gould said: “Mike Cooke is one of the most forward-thinking leaders in local government. Never someone to chase the limelight, he has, in his patient, understated, way led Camden through a period of unprecedented challenge and helped to ensure our values stronger than ever.

“He is a great innovator who has helped us protect our public services and build a culture that recognises the strength in our communities, despite losing half our budget.

“He is the ultimate public servant, serving Camden with absolute dedication and I’ve personally learnt a lot from him. While he’s not leaving us just yet I know when he does he will leave us in the strongest possible place to weather turbulent times and continue to build together a place where no-one is left behind.”

Mr Cooke said that he has given six months notice to allow time to recruit his successor and allow a “smooth transition”.

He added: “I am determined that this news will not be a distraction and that until the end of next March it will be ‘service as usual’. I will be firmly at the helm of the organisation and intend to keep very focussed on the job in hand including not being distracted by retirement or leaving conversations which we can postpone until next year.”

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