Devon’s chief executive has decided to retire

Dr Phil Norrey is a fine example of what we should be able to expect from a local authority Chief Executive – Owl

Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com

Devon County Council’s long-serving chief executive, Phil Norrey, has announced his retirement. Dr Norrey has held the post since 2006 and is the longest-serving chief executive in the council’s history.

He joined the authority in 1998 as deputy director of education before being promoted to director of education. Dr Norrey, who will be 60 next year, said it was the right time for him to leave and hand over to his successor as a new senior management team takes shape at County Hall.

He said: “Devon County Council has been a huge part of my life and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with some excellent colleagues to provide vital services to the people of Devon. This year the council has been building a talented new senior management team and it’s the right time for me to hand over to a successor with different talents and ideas to lead the authority as local government faces many new challenges.”

Dr Norrey said among the highlights of his career in Devon were the major reorganisation of education in Exeter, leading the council through a period of austerity, Devon’s response to the pandemic when the county council was the regional lead authority and its current leadership of the Green agenda with his chairmanship of the Devon Climate Change Emergency Response Group and the production of the Carbon Plan to cut emissions.

The introduction of daily rail services from Exeter to Okehampton and the creation of new railway stations including Marsh Barton, which is currently under construction, would help encourage people out of their cars and onto public transport, he said.

Dr Norrey has overseen a number of major projects such as the development of two new towns at Cranbrook and Sherford, the South Devon link road and the creation of Exeter’s innovative Science Park along with two waste to energy plants in Exeter and South Devon .

“I’m also proud that we have been consistently one of the top councils for recycling waste and, as a keen cyclist, the network of cycle trails that we have developed across the county,” he said.

Dr Norrey led the region’s chief executives in preparing for Brexit and the pandemic and has chaired the regional and national societies of chief executives.

“One of my predecessors told me when I was appointed that I would probably not want to do the job for more than 10 years,” said Dr Norrey. “It’s now been 16 and a half years and I certainly never intended to go on past my 60th birthday.”

In his retirement he plans to follow his beloved Burnley football club as they attempt to return to the Premiership at the first attempt, to cycle around Devon more and to pursue his keen interest in local history.

Devon County Council leader, John Hart, said: “Phil Norrey has given nearly a quarter of a century of exemplary service to this county and I will miss his wise advice and counsel and his help and support.

“He has a local, regional and national reputation and it is fitting that he has been Devon’s longest-serving chief executive. I wish him all the very best for a long, healthy and happy retirement.”

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