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Executive chief officers appointed by Highland Council

By Andrew Dixon

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Highland Council has made three appointments to new posts of executive chief officer.

Liz Denovan takes up the role in resources and finance next month, while Carron McDiarmid (customer and communities) and Lesley Weber (health and social care) join in September.

The roles are part of a new structure of the council's senior management.

Each post commands a £91,196 salary.

The council has reduced senior and middle management posts in recent years saving more than £3.5 million and is now looking at "reducing management layers further".

There will be an executive chief officer appointed to five other posts covering performance and governance; education and learning; property and housing; infrastructure and environment; and transformation and economy.

Council leader Margaret Davidson said: “I am very pleased to welcome Carron, Liz and Lesley to the new management structure of the Highland Council which was approved in May. I look forward to their contributions in helping the council to deliver its vision and objectives and to achieve better outcomes.

“Their posts are three of eight new senior appointments that will each have responsibility for a geographical area which will help to enhance local visibility and enable the council to become better connected to communities at a local level. The executive chief officer posts are being recruited over the coming months.”

None of the appointed trio have been assigned their geographical area yet.

Liz Denovan.
Liz Denovan.

Ms Denovan brings nearly 30 years’ experience of working in local government and the charity sector. She volunteers with the Samaritans and is currently director of finance and operations at Christian international healthcare charity EMMS International and was previously corporate finance manager with East Lothian Council and chief accountant at Clackmannanshire Council.

“I am so pleased to have been appointed as a member of the leadership team with the Highland Council and I look forward to leading and delivering the transformational change agenda creating a sustainable Highland Council.

“I welcome the opportunity to work with the communities to enable improved locally informed decision making, ensuring effective use of our resources in these financially challenging times.

“This is a wonderful opportunity and I am looking forward to working and living in such a beautiful part of Scotland that is the Highlands.”

Carron McDiarmid.
Carron McDiarmid.

Ms McDiarmid has been a head of service in Highland Council for 14 years. During that time, she has led on several areas of corporate policy, performance, community engagement, change and redesign projects. She is currently the interim chief officer (resources) for community services and will continue in this role until further executive chief officer appointments are made.

She started her career as a graduate trainee in housing in Ross and Cromarty District Council and has worked in other public bodies and the civil service.She is a voluntary board member of Inverness College UHI and has been involved in various voluntary and fundraising groups over the 30 years she has lived in the Highlands.

She said: “I’m looking forward to working with staff, members, community bodies and partners across the range of services involved in this role. There is a lot of good practice and community innovation to build on and opportunities to do even more.”

Lesley Weber.
Lesley Weber.

Ms Weber is currently service manager with Hackney Council’s children and families services leading on practice and the strategic response to domestic abuse and all forms of violence towards women and girls. She was previously a senior clinical social worker with Tavistock & Portman NHS Family Drug and Alcohol Court, senior social worker with Islington Council and social worker with Ealing Council.

In her spare time, she occasionally undertakes independent social work assessments and guest lecturing. Prior to qualifying as a social worker, she spent four years working in children’s residential units in Renfrewshire. She brings 16 years' professional experience to the Highlands.

Ms Weber said: “I’m really excited to be joining Highland Council at this time of change. I hope to bring with me not only the wealth of professional experience I have gained over the last 16 years but also my passion for working with and getting to know communities and the wider professional partnership.

"Having grown up in the Orkney Islands I’m also very much looking forward to returning to live and work in rural Scotland.”

Related article: BREAKING: Highland Council declares it will save money by 'reducing management layers'

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