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New Joint CEO for Guildford and Waverley Councils Appointed

Published on: 20 Dec, 2023
Updated on: 20 Dec, 2023

Pedro Wrobel

By Martin Giles

The appointment of a new joint chief executive officer for Guildford and Waverley Borough Councils has been approved by both councils.

The new CEO is Pedro Wrobel. His salary will be £165,000, £7,000 more than advertised.

Guildford Borough councillors supported the appointment at an extraordinary full council meeting held last night, December 19. Waverley Borough councillors approved the appointment one hour later. Mr Wrobel will replace the current joint CEO, Tom Horwood, who will leave his post in February 2024.

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

A council spokesperson said: “Pedro joins the post from Westminster City Council, bringing considerable experience to the role. As the executive director for Innovation and Change at Westminster City Council, he is responsible for strategy, policy, analysis, communications, transformation and governance, and community engagement. He also oversees culture, events, leisure services, and parks.”

The job advert for the joint CEO role.

Mr Wrobel was a civil servant for 20 years, and served as Director of Planning at what is now the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities; as director of the Cabinet Office Systems Unit; as the Cabinet Office’s head of profession for Policy; and as chief strategy officer at the Valuation Office Agency. He is also a policy fellow at the Cambridge University Centre for Science and Policy.

He will join Waverley and Guildford Borough Councils in spring 2024.

Cllr Julia McShane

GBC leader Julia McShane (Westborough) said: “I’m delighted that Pedro Wrobel has accepted the position as our new joint chief executive. He brings a wealth of experience to our borough, and I look forward to working with him.”

Mr Wrobel said: “I’m delighted to have been appointed as chief executive for Guildford and Waverley Borough Councils, and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in.

“As a regular visitor to Guildford and Waverley, the opportunity to lead and bring together two amazing organisations, and to make a positive difference to places I care deeply about, is a real privilege. I want to play my part in making Guildford and Waverley brilliant places to live, work and do business.”

Cllr Philip Brooker

And the appointment was supported by the leader of the Conservative group at GBC, Philip Brooker (Worplesdon), who had been a member of the appointments committee alongside Cllr McShane and Richard Lucas, lead councillor for finance. Cllr Brooker said: “I thought that Pedro Wrobel was the outstanding candidate. I think he’ll be very, very good for Guildford. He’s a real live wire.”

But the appointment was not without a dissenting voice. Cllr Joss Bigmore (Merrow), leader of R4GV, said that he wanted the new CEO to be successful in his role noting that  “there are a multitude of challenges for all local authorities, obviously, and some specific issues for Guildford and Waverley.”

Cllr Joss Bigmore

But he had issues with the timing of the process and wondered whether, as a result, the council had had the “best slate of candidates”.

He continued: “I don’t know any senior hires that tend to happen in December. We still have an MTFP [medium-term financial plan] deficit of over £7 million; we don’t have a permanent section 1.1 finance officer and we’ve just lost two heads of service in the month. There were no internal candidates for the role, which is always a bit of a red flag and we have political instability with a vote of no confidence last council meeting.

“So I would question whether we’re an attractive proposition for candidates at the moment. If we’d waited for a couple of months, and a few of these few of these issues could have been more stable, then we might have got better candidates.

“I was quite surprised when this job has been advertised that a salary of up to £158,000 but we’ve actually offered them £165,000.

“If someone has applied for the job, accepted it and then tried to effectively hold us to ransom for more money, is that the right values for someone that’s going to be leading this organisation? I don’t know. So I was wondering if I could just have some clarification as to why we’re now offering someone nearly 5 per cent more than in the job description?”

This morning Cllr Bigmore said: “I don’t know why the council leader could not answer my question last night. At the Waverley Council meeting it was explained that the salary rise was negotiated as Mr Wrobel did not want to take a pay cut to take up the appointment, which I find completely understandable.

“Our council leader’s reluctance to be open and transparent just made it look far more suspicious.”

GBC councillors approved of the motion to appoint Mr Wrobel by a vote, 29 for, none against with three absentions.

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Responses to New Joint CEO for Guildford and Waverley Councils Appointed

  1. Dan Wright Reply

    December 21, 2023 at 4:08 pm

    How the hell can that salary be justified? And £7K more than advertised!

  2. Anthony Mallard Reply

    December 21, 2023 at 5:25 pm

    It will be justified on the qualifications and experience of the applicant and his/her ability to do the job on the basis that the council has to fish in a very competitive market place – and then, post the recruitment and employment of the selected individual, it will commission consultants to do the very things that the successful candidate was supposed to be able and paid to do.

  3. RWL Davies Reply

    December 23, 2023 at 4:50 pm

    Mr Mallard tells it the way it is.

    Many precedents can be cited.

  4. Dave Fielding Reply

    December 24, 2023 at 7:47 am

    I’m no expert on procurement but if the council had advertised for a service to be done at a fixed price a number of possible applicants might not have bid as they they felt it was too low. Wouldn’t they now be a bit miffed to learn the bid winner had renegotiated the price.

    Frankly if what has been said by those involved is true, then it stinks. Could the council not have agreed the extra payment on results and not in the basic salary?

  5. Ned Javelin Reply

    January 26, 2024 at 12:59 pm

    I’d rather have 4 people on £40K who actually do tackle the performance of adopted policies.

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