Gillian Norton, Chief Executive of Richmond Council for the past seventeen years is to receive the highest honour the borough can award, it was announced at last night's Council meeting.
To mark Gillian's retirement and in recognition of her service to Richmond upon Thames, the Leader of the Council, Lord True and the Leader of the Opposition, Cllr Gareth Roberts, announced that it is their intention to recommend that the Council award Mrs Norton with a Freedom of the Borough accolade.
Gillian Norton has been Chief Executive of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames since August 1999. Before that she was Chief Executive of Wokingham District Council for six years.
Gillian will retire from Richmond at the end of September, whereupon she will take up an honorary position as Representative Deputy Lieutenant for Richmond upon Thames. She takes over the role from Sir Ken Knight, who has held the position since 2007.
From 1 October Paul Martin, Chief Executive of Wandsworth Council, will become Joint Chief Executive for both Richmond and Wandsworth councils. This is part of both councils’ plans to create a shared staffing arrangement.
At the meeting last night, Cllr True said:
"Gillian has had a long and illustrious career in local government. Her service at Richmond and in her previous local government positions has been truly outstanding. She is an exemplary public servant and sets an example in integrity that others can only aspire to.
"Over the past 17 years she has led Richmond Council through many challenges and difficulties with consummate professionalism and skill and given a creative and energetic lead to new policies. The Council is unanimous in wanting to bestow this rare honour in recognition of everything she has done for the people of this Borough."
Cllr Roberts added:
"Gillian Norton has shown immense professionalism and dedication throughout her seventeen years as Chief Executive. She is a woman of wisdom, intelligence and integrity. I would like to thank her for everything she has done for Richmond upon Thames. I can't think of anyone better who deserves this honour."
Gillian Norton, said:
"Over the past 17 years I have truly enjoyed my time as Chief Executive of Richmond upon Thames. I have had great satisfaction in taking on the many challenges presented to me throughout my career and I hope that I have helped to introduce many improvements that benefit the people of Richmond and local government in London.
"I have been immensely privileged to work with so many dedicated colleagues, passionate in their commitment to improving the borough, whether those are the thousands of staff, the councillors, colleagues in partner agencies or local residents.
"I always said that I wanted to retire at sixty. However, I am genuinely sad to be leaving at such an exciting time for Richmond. But, I am confident that I will leave the Council in good hands."
The Freedom of the Borough is the highest award Richmond Council can give and is an honour bestowed on very few people. It recognises eminent services of local people to the borough. The award dates back to the middle ages when Freemen had commercial privileges and a route into a position of power in a town or city.
The Lord-Lieutenant appoints a Representative Deputy Lieutenant to each of London’s 32 boroughs to assist him in his role as Her Majesty’s representative.