New Bristol City Council chief executive is named

Paul Martin, the new interim chief executive of Bristol City Council
Paul Martin, the new interim chief executive of Bristol City Council -Credit:Government of Jersey

The new man in charge of Bristol City Council - for the next few months at least - has been named, as Paul Martin, a local government boss who previously ran councils in London and the Government of Jersey.

Mr Martin has been chosen as the interim chief executive at City Hall, and will run the authority while the council recruits a permanent chief executive. The previous one, Stephen Peacock, is leaving at the start of June to take up a new role as the West of England Combined Authority’s chief executive.

Council leader Cllr Tony Dyer has told councillors and staff at City Hall that Paul Martin will ‘lead us through an important transitional period’, as the organisation running Bristol gets used to the new committee system in place of having a directly-elected mayor.

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In a letter to staff, Cllr Dyer thanked the outgoing chief exec Stephen Peacock, whose last day in the job will be on June 9. “During his time here he has led the council through some challenging times, but he has always been focused on making a difference to the lives of our citizens and supporting our dedicated workforce towards our goals,” said Cllr Dyer.

Mr Martin comes with a track record of leading big local authorities in London - most notably Wansdworth and Richmond-upon-Thames and in 2021 he took up a temporary role as the chief executive for the Government of Jersey.

In Wandsworth, he was in charge as the council there co-ordinated big regeneration projects, including Battersea Power Station and the Nine Elms redevelopment, which became well known and sparked controversy over its 'poor door' system which separated social housing tenants from other residents, and denied them the use of a landmark rooftop pool.

He was recommended for the role of interim chief executive in Bristol by a cross-party selection committee and will take up the role on June 10 - if his appointment is approved by full council on June 3.

Cllr Tony Dyer -Credit:LDRS
Cllr Tony Dyer -Credit:LDRS

“Paul will help lead us through an important transitional period over the next few months, as the organisation adapts to the new committee system,” said Cllr Dyer. “He will support us as we continue to focus on the council’s financial stability and drive forward the transformation programmes and our strategic priorities,” he added.

Mr Martin faces a huge job to sort out multiple issues left behind by the previous chief executive and administration, including the backlog in the planning department that has become so huge the Government stepped in take over dealing with some planning applications, and the funding crisis in Bristol's special needs education provision which led to the previous Labour Mayor Marvin Rees signing a controversial 'safety valve' deal to make huge cuts to the provision in return for the Government wiping off £50 million of debt from the service.