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Woking CEO Gives Notice – She Will Quit in February

Published on: 15 Nov, 2023
Updated on: 16 Nov, 2023

Julie Fisher, Woking chief executive. Image Woking Borough Council.

By Chris Caulfield

local democracy reporter

Bankrupt Woking Borough Council has been left rudderless after its chief executive announced her decision to quit.

The news leaves the heavily indebted council without permanent appointments across its three most senior roles as both its legal and financial bosses are temporary positions.

Julie Fisher took over the top job at the council in April 2021, following questions over the transparency of the recruitment process. She replaced Ray Morgan as CEO after he stepped down following 14 years at the helm.

Ms Fisher said she plans to stay on at the council until February 2024 when it will agree a new budget.

She said: “I have made the difficult decision to leave Woking Borough Council.

“It has been a privilege to lead the organisation through significant change and to serve the residents of Woking since 2021.

“With the support of councillors and a dedicated officer team, I have led a whole systems approach to address the significant challenges that the council faces.

“My role has been unique in respect of its challenges and demands, and has required significant energy, time and commitment.

“Having given that energy and commitment for two and a half years, I believe the organisation is now firmly on the path to recovery and that now is the right time for me to hand over to somebody with fresh energy to continue to drive Woking’s recovery.”

Cllr Anne-Marie Barker

Ms Fisher inherited an authority with unprecedented financial, governance and cultural challenges and was instrumental in setting the council on the path to recovery, said Councillor Ann-Marie Barker, leader of Woking Borough Council.

She said: “I’m disappointed that I could not persuade Julie to stay with us for longer, but I respect the difficult decision that she has made. She has put in many long hours to unravel and start to tackle Woking’s complex finances.

“Julie has shown remarkable resilience and is respected by staff, councillors and partners alike for the way in which she has led our recovery and improvement journey.”

Cllr Kevin Davis

Leader of the Conservative opposition group, Kevin Davis, said questions needed to be asked as to why so many senior people were either not staying or were not capable of being recruited.

He added: “If you look at the senior leadership team, the finance director is temporary,  the legal monitoring officer is temporary, and the CEO has effectively quit.

“Those three roles are absolutely vital in the running of the council.

“We know the Section 151 officer goes after the budget – that will mean we’ve had three s151 officers (in a little over a year).

“It’s not good for the council to have senior leaders not committed to Woking Borough Council. That’s a real problem and why, I don’t know. I can guess.”

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Responses to Woking CEO Gives Notice – She Will Quit in February

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    November 17, 2023 at 9:01 pm

    One thing isn’t mentioned, does Julie Fisher already have a post in another authority already set.

    One possible problem with local authority and civil service is a culture that no other industry or business is able to develop executives with transferable skills. That is obviously not true within industries.

    So instead, we have “not trained here” mentality to perpetuate “this is how it’s done”.

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