Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Council reveals its Senior Management Team

Following the amalgamation of Newry and Mourne and Down District Councils in April, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has announced details of its new Senior Management Team.

Led by Chief Executive Liam Hannaway, the team features Eddy Curtis as Deputy Chief Executive and Strategic Planning & Performance Director; Marie Ward takes on the role of Enterprise, Regeneration & Tourism Director; Michael Lipsett has been appointed Active & Healthy Communities Director while Canice O’Rourke is Director of Regulatory & Technical Services.

In introducing the new Senior Management Team, Liam Hannaway said all four possess “a wide skill set and bring with them experience gathered from many years of working in local government and within other sectors”.

“This team will be fundamental in delivering our strategic objectives as set out in the Corporate Plan and I am pleased to welcome them on board. We’ve got major plans in place to transform the service our customers and visitors experience,” he said.

A former teacher, Eddy Curtis previously held the post of Director of Administration in Newry and Mourne District Council. He was also the Council’s Clerk and Chief Executive from July 2014 – 31 March 2015.

Speaking about his appointment and aspirations for his directorate, Mr Curtis said, “I am very pleased to have been offered the position of Director of Strategic Development and Performance Management/Deputy Chief Executive. The implementation of a Strategic Development and Performance Management Business Plans will be crucial in making this new Council successful. The development of a series of strategic projects including Down Leisure Centre, Phase II of Newry Leisure Centre, a new Civic Centre in the City of Newry, a new Community facility in Saintfield, a new visitor attraction facility in Newcastle and many other Capital Projects will be the envy of other Councils. Also a major part of my new brief will be leading an innovative and outward looking transformational strategy linked to our Performance Management Policy will ensure our ratepayers receive quality value for money services.”

Michael Lipsett has almost 30 years’ experience working in Local Government and was the Director of Leisure Services in Newtownabbey Borough Council before becoming Director of Recreation and Community Services in Down District Council and a member of its Corporate Management Team.

In Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Mr Lipsett will be responsible for Community Engagement, Health & Wellbeing and Leisure and will also be based in the Downshire Civic Centre.

He says he wants to create a department that deals with the district’s communities in “a fundamentally different way”.

“The aim is to create a compelling vision of the district’s communities in the future. Communities that are self-reliant, self-sustaining, confident, safe, healthy and vibrant. I want to build a department where every member of staff sees it as their job to assist the communities in realising this objective by building their capacity and enabling them to grow and take on new challenges and new responsibilities. I want the communities to be much more involved in finding the solutions to the big challenges that lie ahead and in designing services that maximise the opportunities to do things differently and better freeing up resources from the mundane to be used on the exciting,” he said.

Marie Ward joined Down District Council in 2008 as Estates Manager and three years later she was the first, and only female officer ever to be appointed to the position as head of a Group Building Control body in Northern Ireland, when she took up the post of Group Chief Building Control Officer.  She held responsibility for the project management of Down District Council’s new £11million administration building in Downpatrick and has led the development of the Downshire Public Sector Campus, managed the transfer of services and has secured public sector jobs in Downpatrick through the relocation of public services to the Downshire Estate ie NIHE, NIFRS, DARD.

Ms Ward said she is delighted to take up the post of Director of Enterprise, Regeneration and Tourism at such an exciting juncture in local government.

“We have an amazing district with an extensive coastline, three areas of outstanding natural beauty, a wealth of natural resources including the Mourne Mountains, Slieve Gullion and Strangford and Carlingford Loughs. Newry’s location at an equal distance from both Belfast and Dublin and Downpatrick’s proximity to Belfast combined with Warrenpoint Port and the many successful businesses provide a fantastic base to grow our economy.  I will work actively with our Councillors, staff, the business community and other public bodies to make Newry, Mourne and Down the destination of choice,” she said.

Mr Canice O’Rourke concludes the Senior Management Team.  A former member of Down District Council’s Corporate Management Team, and Director of Environmental Services, Mr O’Rourke had responsibility for all aspects of Waste Management, Environmental Health and Information Technology. Prior to joining the Council, he spent 25 years in a variety of managerial roles with GlaxoSmithKline and Eli Lilly; two of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies.

In total the Directorate will have around 440 staff and a budget of just over £20M.

Mr O’Rourke says he “relishes the challenge” ahead.

“The formation of the new Council presents a plethora of opportunities to critically review existing services and to design and implement new, more effective and efficient services that respond to the desires and increasing demands of the ratepayers across the district, and to do so in a way that will demonstrate value for money. While I anticipate a period of ‘business as usual’, as we create the necessary internal structures, I relish the challenge of building a new directorate and shaping a new council that our rate payers can be proud of,” he said.