HAMPSHIRE County Council is set to appoint its new chief executive at a meeting next Thursday.

As previously reported by The Gazette, outgoing chief executive, Andrew Smith, announced his retirement from Hampshire County Council in May following eight years in the post and over 25 years at the local authority.

Following national competition for the role, an 11-strong cross-party Member Appointment Panel, which met last Friday, is recommending the county council’s current deputy chief executive and director of children’s services, John Coughlan, for the role.

Prior to becoming the local authority’s deputy chief executive in 2009, Mr Coughlan was corporate director of social care at Telford and Wrekin Council and assistant director for children and families in Dudley.

In 2008, Mr Coughlan was urgently appointed as the interim director of children’s services in the London borough of Haringey to bring stability to the authority in the aftermath of the ‘Baby P’ child protection crisis.

He became the last president of the Association of Directors of Social Services in 2006, before becoming the founding joint presidents of the Association of Director’s of Children’s Services (ADCS) in 2007. He still remains on the board of directors of ADCS.

In 2009, Mr Coughlan was awarded a CBE in the New Years honours list in recognition of his work in children’s services.

A final decision on his appointment will be made by all 78 councillors at a full council meeting next Thursday.

Council leader, Councillor Roy Perry, said: “John Coughlan’s experience, knowledge of the county council and abilities shone through during the appointment process.

“We believe we have found an inspirational and visionary leader who will lead the authority as it continues this journey of transformation and modernisation.

“The Appointment Panel is delighted to be recommending John Coughlan, to the full county council, for the position of chief executive – and I’m indebted to the members of all parties who have helped in this process.”

Cllr Perry added: “The people of Hampshire rightly expect a high quality service from the county council, which requires us to ensure that we are continually pushing boundaries with innovative and efficient methods of working. To do this we need the best people working for us.

“The challenges faced in public services, between now and end of the decade also mean that it is essential that we have a strong successor to take forward the county council’s ambition to be a modern business providing public services.”