A NEW chief executive for Woking Borough Council is likely to be appointed this evening after a recruitment process left one candidate in the running, who is a senior WBC official.

Julie Fisher, who has been Director of Community Services since May last year, is being recommended to replace Ray Morgan after a second final-placed candidate withdrew nine days ago.

The Liberal Democrats, Labour and Independents have expressed concerns over the recruitment process.

Ann-Marie Barker, the Lib Dem leader, has written to Ayesha Azad, the council leader, to see if the concerns can be resolved before the council meeting this evening.

Ms Fisher worked for Surrey County Council for 12 years, becoming deputy chief executive in charge of children’s services as well as business support and a number of other areas.

She was interim chief executive from September 2017 to April 2018.

The search for a replacement for Mr Morgan, whose fixed-term contract ends on 31 March, began late last year when the post was advertised, attracting 21 applicants.

This was reduced to a shortlist of six, including some current chief executives from authorities around the country. Ms Fisher was the only internal candidate to make it to this stage. These applicants faced a media exercise designed to assess their ability to handle difficult questions – the scenario pretended the BBC wanted an interview over the potential bleak outlook for councils who have invested in retail – and then interviews with council officials and councillors.

At the end of the process, Ms Fisher and another senior council official, one working in Scotland, were both considered well suited for the post. Both were put forward for an interview with all members of the council.

However, the other candidate withdrew last Tuesday (29 December) and so the council is being asked to appoint Ms Fisher from 1 April this year.

The special council meeting begins tonight at 7pm – to view the webcast of the meeting, go to https://woking.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/535632

For more on this story, get the 7 January edition of the Woking News & Mail.