Council chief to retire
The top civil servant at Stratford District Council is to bow out at the end of this year and says the authority is becoming more ambitious and forward thinking.
Executive director Dave Webb, 61, will retire on 31 December leaving the council after 29 years of service, in a number of different roles.
Dave began his career in local government in Birmingham in 1973 before eventually moving to SDC in 1989, via a two year stint in Wolverhampton.
During his time in Stratford, Dave has taken a key role in a number of large council projects, such as the formation of Shakespeare’s England, the community transport scheme and the establishment of the council’s business centre at Venture House.
Dave said: “I’m going to be sad leaving, there is a very welcoming culture at SDC, I felt at home right from the beginning. I’m very proud of my involvement with Shakespeare’s England, the destination management organisation, I started the process off, bringing businesses and the community together with a common goal, and it’s just gone from strength to strength ever since.
“I’m also pleased to have played a part in the Tithe Lodge extra-care scheme in Southam and improving Stratford’s market provision in partnership with Stratford Town Council.
“I think the council could have taken advantage of more investment opportunities over the years, however I think members are more open to investing now than they have been in the past, they’re more entrepreneurial. I think we could have done better putting projects together for LEP funding, we were a bit behind the curve on that one. However we have a good relationship with stakeholders, WCC and the LEP which is critical.
“The council’s current high level of reserves is testament to the good financial management of the authority, it’s testament to the officers and members involved. However it’s good that there are a number of big projects on the horizon where the council will spend some of that money.
“One of the most challenging times I have experienced in local government was when the poll tax was introduced, it was very difficult and traumatic for everyone. We still had the magistrates’ court in Stratford at the time and there used to be queues of people waiting to go in for non-payment.
“Over the years the council has changed from being a provider of services to one which enables others to provide a lot of those services, which I think is a good approach. There’s a lot fewer people working in local government these days, but everyone works incredibly hard. We have so much automation now too, there’s been such a leap forwards in technology.
“I’m looking forward to spending more time with my family when I retire, my wife Ann, my daughters Nicola and Frances and my granddaughter Orla. I’ve had so much support from my family over the years and I would also like to thank all the staff and members for their warmth and co-operation during my time here, I’ve never had any issues with anyone.”
Dave said he hoped to improve his golf in retirement, help family members with their businesses and perhaps become a charity trustee.
A new executive director is likely to start working at SDC at the beginning of November, fully taking over Dave’s role when he goes at the end of the year.