Combined Authority appoints new chief executive

Currently chief executive of Cumbria County Council, Katherine Fairclough will replace Frank Rogers as Liverpool City Region Combined Authority CEO in the summer. Tony McDonough reports

Katherine Fairclough
Katherine Fairclough will Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s new chief executive


Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (CA) has appointed Katherine Fairclough as its new chief executive.

Ms Fairclough, who takes over from the retiring Frank Rogers, joins the CA from Cumbria County Council, where she has been chief executive since 2017. She was previously Deputy Chief Executive at Warrington Council.

Her role will involve responsibility for all functions of the CA, including transport, environment, investment and business growth, housing and homelessness, employment and skills, culture, fairness and inclusion.

Appointing a woman as its new chief executive will be seen as progress for the CA which, since its inception in 2014, has been accused of lacking female representation at its highest levels.

Before Janette Williamson became leader of Wirral Council in September 2020, all the voting members of the authority, which comprises the Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, the Mayor of Liverpool and the leaders of Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens and Halton, had been men.

A top priority for Ms Fairclough, who was appointed following a “rigorous” recruitment process, will be taking forward the CA’s work on economic recovery from COVID-19, working with the six local authorities and partners in business and civic institutions.

“The Liverpool city region has so many strengths – from its legendary culture and hospitality, to world-leading industries such as health and life-sciences and advanced manufacturing, to its energetic start-up community,” she said.

“But, like everywhere else, it has been hit hard by the pandemic and there is a huge amount of work to do to drive the city region’s recovery. I’m looking forward to working with partners through this crucial period to achieve our vision to create a globally competitive, environmentally responsible and socially inclusive city region.”

Ms Fairclough, who will start work in the summer, began her career at St Helens Council. She has a strong track record in strategic change leadership, service improvement and transformation. She is an advocate of commercial and entrepreneurial leadership, holding a strong belief that “unleashing the creativity and ambition of a place is key to success”.

Mr Rotheram added: “This is a vital role for our city region, and her appointment is the result of a rigorous recruitment process designed to make sure that we secured the very best candidate possible.

“I am particularly pleased that we are appointing our first woman chief executive, coming just a week after our city region also welcomed its first woman Chief Constable. We have huge challenges ahead of us, but we also have so many positives to build on as we drive forward to recover from the pandemic and return to the progress we were making before COVID-19.”

And paying tribute to the outgoing Frank Rogers, the Metro Mayor also said: “Frank has played an absolutely pivotal role in the progress we have made in the city region over recent years, making a huge contribution to improving the lives of the 1.6m people we serve, with an unshakeable determination and integrity.”

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