POOLE’S long-serving chief executive, John McBride, is to retire at the end of March after 12 years at the top of the council.

A recommendation to approve his retirement early due to ill-health, was accepted at a full meeting of Borough of Poole.

The council proposes to appoint a new chief executive and a recruitment process will start in March. It is expected a new permanent chief executive will be in post by the autumn.

Mr McBride will leave the Civic Centre on March 31 and an interim head of service will take over from April 1.

“I announced last year my intention to retire at the latest by the end of June this year,” said Mr McBride.

“Since making this decision, a period of ill-health has caused me to reassess the timetable for my retirement in the best interests of the smooth running of the organisation.

“It has been my enormous privilege to work in Poole. I am very fortunate to have worked with so many talented and capable people, including councillors, staff and partners across Dorset, who have shown tremendous commitment to serving Poole’s people.

“The past couple of years have been a challenging period for local government but I am very confident that we have the right group of staff to take the council forward. I firmly believe that the future of Poole is very bright.”

He moved to Poole in 1986 as assistant treasurer and, after a spell away, returned as a policy director in 1996 before becoming chief executive in 2002.

Paying tribute to him, council leader Cllr Elaine Atkinson said: “John is an excellent chief executive who has made an enormous contribution to Poole during his many years as a public servant.

“His knowledge, skills and experience have proved invaluable to me personally and to the many councillors, staff and partners who have worked with him over the years.

“He has always commanded the respect and trust of councillors and held the confidence of our staff and partners in the local community. John will be missed by everyone at the council but we all hope he enjoys his well-deserved retirement.”