Gateshead Council appoints new chief executive to replace Sheena Ramsey

Dale Owens, the new chief executive of Gateshead Council
-Credit: (Image: Gateshead Council)

Gateshead Council has appointed a new chief executive.

Dale Owens has been chosen to succeed the outgoing Sheena Ramsey in the top civic centre job, which comes with a £183,000-a-year salary. Mr Owens, currently the authority’s strategic director for integrated adult social care services, had his appointment ratified by councillors on Thursday and will take up his new role on June 1.

Gateshead Labour leader Martin Gannon told colleagues that the recruitment of a new chief executive was the “most important appointment we make as a council” and that a national search had been launched to find candidates. Coun Gannon confirmed that a field of 46 applicants was ultimately narrowed down to two “extremely strong” finalists who were interviewed this week, with Mr Owens’ selection being a “very strong recommendation” from the interview panel on which both Labour and Lib Dem councillors were in “100% agreement”.

Coun Ron Beadle, leader of the town’s Lib Dem opposition, said there had been an “excellent field of candidates at every stage” of the recruitment process and that he was “convinced of the excellence of the decision made”.

Mr Owens steps up to the council's most senior job after less than two years in Gateshead. He joined the authority in August 2022 and had previously worked at North Yorkshire County Council and Hartlepool Council.

Mr Owens said that his top priority in his new job was "giving our residents and communities a voice and role in our decision making". He added: “I am delighted to have been appointed to this position.

"The faith put in me by members and the messages of support that I have received from everyone upon my appointment is humbling. I am determined to ensure the best possible service is provided by this council to the people of Gateshead, our employees, and stakeholders."

It was announced earlier this year that Ms Ramsey would be stepping down in May. She came to Gateshead from Worcester City Council in 2016 and has led the authority through the Covid-19 pandemic and a period of ongoing budget cuts, including the controversial closure of two leisure centres last year.

Ms Ramsey said in January that she was “still passionate about helping the North East achieve a brighter future and look forward to continuing to play my part in achieving that”.