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New Chief Executive officially appointed by Oldham Council

Harry Catherall and Oldham Council leader Councillor Arooj Shah.

A new chief executive for Oldham Council has been officially appointed at a special full council meeting.

Harry Catherall, who is the former Chief Executive of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, will take up his post on Thursday (26 August) following the meeting on Wednesday evening (25 August). 

The authority says he has come to Oldham on 'an interim basis' following a 40-year career in local government, after being unanimously recommended to councillors for approval. 

It comes after it was announced last month that Oldham's first female chief executive, Dr Carolyn Wilkins OBE, was to leave her post after more than 12 years at the local authority.

Oldham Council Leader Councillor Arooj Shah said; “It’s great news that Harry's appointment has now been officially confirmed, and I look forward to welcoming him to the team. I have been clear that what Oldham Council needed in a Chief Executive is someone with drive, determination and a real commitment to delivering great public services for local people.  

"I have set a clear future direction and set of priorities for the role and it’s clear that Harry is the right person to deliver that vision. His focus in his new role will be to forge stronger relationships between local people and their public services and to steer Oldham’s recovery from the impact of the Covid pandemic.”

Mr Catherall said: “I’m delighted to be formally appointed as chief executive and am looking forward to getting started; working with the wider council team to meet the priorities clearly set by the Council’s Leadership.

"Oldham clearly has an ambitious and positive vision for its future and I am keen to play my part in making the town’s plans a reality."

Mr Catherall began his career as a 16-year-old apprentice, rising to become Chief Executive at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, one of the best performing local authorities in the country.

A trained accountant, Mr Catherall has undertaken a wide range of roles during his career including leading high-performing children and adults social care services. He has an impressive track record of delivery including overseeing large-scale public service improvement programmes.

During his time at Blackburn, Mr Catherall transformed the council, reducing spending by 40 per cent to meet reductions in funding from central government while continuing to deliver great local services and an ambitious regeneration programme. This work saw Blackburn named Local Authority of the year.

Most recently, Mr Catherall led St Helens Council as Chief Executive, during which time he oversaw the creation of a new council-wide delivery plan,  while also driving improvements in Children’s Services and progressing significant regeneration activity to boost inward investment and create jobs.

Mr Catherall is also currently an Associate Non-Executive Director at the East Lancashire Hospital Trust - a role that he will be stepping down from to concentrate on his new position.

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