New council's first Chief Executive confirmed
22 July 2022
A Chief Executive has been appointed to lead the new Westmorland and Furness Council.
Sam Plum, currently the Chief Executive at Barrow Borough Council and Interim Head of Paid Service for Westmorland and Furness Council, will officially start in the new role from 31 December 2022.
Sam’s appointment follows an extensive recruitment process, with a Senior Appointments Committee recommending Sam as the preferred candidate and the appointment being formally confirmed at a meeting of Westmorland and Furness Council on 22 July.
Sam has 25 years’ local government experience and has worked for authorities including Rossendale Borough Council, Pendle Borough Council and Bradford City Council. She has worked at a senior corporate leadership level for the past seven years, including the last three years as Chief Executive at Barrow Borough Council.
Sam has a strong track record in strategic planning, community and partnership working and has driven a major transformational journey for Barrow Borough and its residents in the last few years, including securing over £50m investment in the last two years to deliver a range of innovative programmes.
As one of three Senior Responsible Officers on the overall programme she has also played a leading role in the Local Government Reorganisation planning for Cumbria, which will see the biggest change to Cumbria’s council structures since 1974, with two new ‘unitary’ councils being formed to replace the existing set-up of six district councils and Cumbria County Council.
Sam will be leading the new Westmorland and Furness Council, which is the new unitary authority for the geographical area currently covered by Barrow Borough, Eden District and South Lakeland District council boundaries.
When not working, Sam can be found enjoying hobbies including open water swimming at favourite spots around Cumbria and spending time with her family.
Sam said: “I am delighted to have been appointed as Westmorland and Furness Council’s first Chief Executive.
“I believe passionately in local government, and its role in creating the conditions for people and places to thrive.
“Local Government Reorganisation gives a real opportunity to take the best of what we already have and combine that with new ways of working to build a new council that will be ready to improve outcomes across Westmorland and Furness.
“I am driven by the opportunity to set up the new council for success, to create an ambitious, progressive organisation, with compassion at its core.’’
Leader of Westmorland and Furness Council, Councillor Jonathan Brook, welcomed Sam’s appointment. He said: “Sam is an excellent leader and a highly skilled and experienced local government professional.
“I am very much looking forward to working with Sam on our journey to build a new council that delivers the very best outcomes for Westmorland and Furness residents, businesses and organisations.
“Sam has delivered a strong focus on community and place-building in her work in Barrow. In her recent roles as Interim Head of Paid Service for the new council and as Returning Officer in the recent elections in May, Sam has demonstrated the qualities needed to create a successful new authority. Sam acts with integrity and honesty and is able to build strong relationships, both within the new council and externally with our partners.
“I know Sam will be pivotal in helping us deliver the successful outcomes, both for our council and our communities, that we are working towards.”
Westmorland and Furness Council will act in ‘shadow’ form for the next eight months, as it prepares for Vesting Day on 1 April 2023.
1 April 2023 is the point where Westmorland and Furness Council will officially take over responsibility for all services across the Barrow, Eden and South Lakeland areas and the existing Barrow Borough, Eden District and South Lakeland District councils, along with Cumbria County Council, will be dissolved.
Until April 2023 all current services will continue to be delivered by the existing councils, overseen by the councillors on those councils.