Northumberland Council set for new chief after previous boss' £209K payout despite expenses row

Helen Patterson previously worked as Director of Children's Services in Sunderland. Credit: Local Democracy Reporting Service

A new chief executive for Northumberland County Council looks set to be announced, after their predecessor left during a dispute over expenses.

Dr Helen Patterson has been named as the recommended appointment to take over the role, if approved by the full council next month.

She is set to take over the position from interim chief executive Rick O'Farrell, who stepped in as a temporary replacement for Daljit Lally in July.

Mrs Lally walked away with a £209,000 payout following publication of the Max Caller report, which stated the council had been "operating in a dysfunctional way".

It was revealed Mrs Lally flew to Dubai seven times between January 2018 and December 2019 - the total cost of the flights, excluding VAT, came to £18,825.87.

Dr Patterson - who has previously held senior roles at councils in the North East - will become the head of paid service for the authority, subject to approval on 2 November.

Councillor Glen Sanderson, Leader of Northumberland County Council, said: "Helen stood out as our first choice among a very strong field of candidates.

"She brings with her a wealth of skills, experience and an in-depth knowledge of local government and shares our vision to take Northumberland forward over the coming years."

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