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Guildford’s Chief Executive Officer to Resign – Will Stay on to Allow Orderly Handover

Published on: 21 Sep, 2023
Updated on: 21 Sep, 2023

Tom Horwood

The Chief Executive Officer of Guildford Borough Council, Tom Horwood, has announced to councillors and staff his intention to leave his post in February next year.

In a message to staff this morning he says his decision, delayed while the council “identified the financial and governance issues at GBC … and put in place plans to resolve them”, was not prompted “by any single thing” but was following a health scare.

In a joint statement from the leaders of Guildford Borough Council and Waverley Borough Council, Julia McShane and Paul Follows said: “The health and well-being of our staff are of paramount concern to us, and while we are both saddened by his departure, we fully support his decision.”

Following is Tom Horwood’s message to council staff and the joint message from the council leaders. Both are reproduced in full as received from Mr Horwood:

Dear Colleague

I would like to update you on my position and share with you a statement from the Leaders of Guildford and Waverley Councils at the end.

After six years at Waverley and 20 months at Guildford, I have decided that I will be leaving my role of joint Chief Executive in early 2024. I have agreed with the Leaders to work with colleagues and councillors on an orderly transition of responsibilities, while the councils recruit my successor.

This job is a privilege and at times a great pressure. My decision has not been prompted by any single thing. Rather, I have been considering a change for several months, while I reflected on my career and future plans and the impact on my wellbeing, having had a recent health scare. I delayed the decision while we identified the financial and governance issues at GBC reported to council in July and August and put in place plans to resolve them.

Over the next five months, I will continue to work hard for both boroughs and support the councils to take the right decisions on priorities, services and funding. I am grateful for the support of an excellent senior team and the political leaderships. I am continually inspired by the commitment and dedication of colleagues and councillors who work so hard for local residents at a time of exceptional challenge. I will always do what I can to champion local public services.

Tom Horwood, Joint Chief Executive

From the Leaders of Guildford BC and Waverley BC:

We want to extend our heartfelt thanks and support to Tom Horwood for all of his hard work for both Waverley Borough Council and Guildford Borough Council during the first phase of our collaboration and previously at Waverley.

Tom has brought professionalism, drive and hard work to a demanding role in difficult times for local government. He has helped build a capable and resilient organisation and both councils that will continue to thrive.

The health and well-being of our staff are of paramount concern to us, and while we are both saddened by his departure, we fully support his decision.

We are grateful that Tom has offered to stay in the post until the end of February, ensuring a smooth recruitment process for a successor and an orderly transition in 2024. We wish him all the best in his future career.

Cllr Paul Follows

Leader, Waverley Borough Council

Cllr Julia McShane

Leader, Guildford Borough Council

1045: Joss Bigmore, former leader of GBC and leader of the Residents for Guildford & Villages group said: “Tom Horwood is an exceptional Chief Executive and a very good man.

“I worked closely with him for two years. We spoke almost daily and his work ethic and professionalism were inspiring to all those around him.

“The fact so many issues have been found at Guildford Borough Council is testament to his tenacity and refusal to accept poor standards, the Borough should be grateful that we are rebuilding from such solid foundations.

“His resignation will be a shock to many, but one’s health is of paramount importance, and I hope people respect his privacy.”

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Responses to Guildford’s Chief Executive Officer to Resign – Will Stay on to Allow Orderly Handover

  1. S Toovey Reply

    September 26, 2023 at 7:13 am

    So there is “something rotten in the state of” Guildford, apparently uncovered by Tom Horwood when Joss Bigmore was council leader.

    I do sincerely hope this leads to an improvement in Mr Horwood’s health. May we, as taxpayers, know in detail what these issues were, what plan is in place to address them, and whether this plan will survive Mr Horwood’s departure?

    Editor’s note: It is not yet been made clear to The Dragon in which period the Housing Revenue Account overspends occured or when they were first discovered.

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