I made time on Thursday to attend a lunch in honour of Sheila Wheeler, the departing Chief Executive at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council. The Kent County Councillors for Tunbridge Wells Borough – myself, Alex King, John Davies, Roger Manning, James Scholes and Roy Bullock paid tribute to the work Sheila had done during her four and a half year tenure.
When she first arrived, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council had just been assessed by the Audit Commission as ‘weak’. The problems were immense, and both Sheila as the successor to Rodney Stone and the new Leader, Roy Bullock had theior work cut out. They made an excellent team, and with hard work, dedication and commitment the Council gradually raised its game, until last year the Audit Commission raised their assessment to ‘Excellent’. Tunbridge Wells are one of only a handful of authorities nationally to have jumped directly from weak to excellent, and credit is due to Sheila for her part in this feat. At the same time as her work for the Borough Council she was encouraging more efficient working at the Kent Waste Forum, to great effect.
Sheila is now off to Somerset County Council where she takes up her post as Chief Executive shortly, and neither Tunbridge Wells, nor local government in Kent will be quite the same without her.