Chief Executive and Corporate Leadership team

We are fully committed to being up-front, open and transparent about the individual roles and salaries of our chief officers, including the chief executive.

Corporate Leadership team

Corporate Leadership Team (CLT) is the main officer decision-making body and works with and for the Councillors you elect, to run key local public services such as schools, roads, culture and tourism, waste and recycling collections, social care for older people and children, libraries and parks along with major regeneration and investment projects.

CLT is currently made up of the chief executive and six executive directors. CLT meets weekly and is responsible, among other things, for:

  • corporate leadership and direction
  • providing the formal response to Cabinet policy direction and the development of corporate policy and initiatives for Cabinet consideration
  • co-ordination and commissioning of Council-wide activity, planning, programme management
  • as part of our complex organisation, the CLT are collectively responsible for a gross revenue budget of circa £400 million and a five year capital programme of circa £275 million, a staff of approximately 5000 (including schools) and for the delivery of hundreds of services in Southend

A further fourteen directors make up the extended corporate leadership team. They are listed below under the executive director they report to.

Rob Polkinghorne - Chief Executive

Rob Polkinghorne

Rob is the chief executive and head of paid service. Rob is the most senior officer in the Council and through providing leadership, is responsible for the effective operation of the organisation to ensure the outcomes that best serve the residents of Southend-on-Sea, its businesses, students and visitors are delivered. Rob is also the council’s returning officer and is responsible for the smooth running of elections in the area.

Joe Chesterton - Executive Director (Finance and Resources)

Joe Chesterton head and shoulders

Joe is the senior financial officer in the Council and holds the statutory Section151 role ensuring that the Council acts appropriately in all financial matters in line with legislation.

Joe is also responsible for the following services:

  • financial planning
  • financial management
  • internal audit
  • asset management
  • procurement
  • revenues and benefits
  • customer services - including registrars and bereavement services


Director of Property and Commercial: Vacant

Director of Financial Services (interim): Pete Bates

Alan Richards - Executive Director (Growth and Housing)

Alan Richards

Alan is the council's strategic lead with South Essex Homes and registered providers, businesses, developers, colleges, universities and Transport East. Alan is also responsible for a number of services including:

  • housing
  • regeneration
  • business growth
  • planning
  • infrastructure and skills


Director of Regeneration and Growth: Emma Lindsell

Director of Planning : Kevin Waters

Director of Housing Development: Glyn Halksworth

John Burr - Executive Director (Neighbourhoods and Environment)

John Burr - Executive Director (Neighbourhoods and Environment)

John is the council’s strategic lead with the police and fire services, private sector landlords, the business improvement district and other local business associations. John is also responsible for a number of services, including:

  • community safety and CCTV
  • street cleaning
  • waste services
  • highways and parking
  • parks and open spaces, including crematorium and cemeteries
  • regulatory services
  • private sector housing
  • town centre management
  • climate change
  • transport


Director of Public Protection: Joanne Stowell

Director of Highways: Vacant

Michael Marks - Executive Director (Children and Public Health)

Michael Marks head and shoulders

Michael is the statutory Director of Children Services (DCS), and the strategic lead with schools, children centres and health services for children. Michael is also responsible for a number of services, including:

  • children’s services
  • youth offending service
  • learning and education
  • early years
  • SEND services
  • public health


Director of Education, Inclusion and Early Years: Liz Hunt

Director of Children’s, Social Work, Early Help and Youth Support: Lissa-Marie Minnis

Director of Public Health: Krishna Ramkhelawon

Mark Harvey - Executive Director (Adults and Communities)

Mark is the statutory Director of Adult Social Services and the strategic lead with health, cultural partners and the voluntary and community sector. Mark is also responsible for a number of services, including:

  • adult social care
  • integration and partnerships
  • homelessness and social inclusion
  • culture, including leisure, libraries, museums, art galleries and music
  • tourism, including Pier, foreshore, city centre management and events


Director of Culture and Tourism: Scott Dolling

Director of Integration and Partnerships: Benedict Leigh

Director of Adult Social Care Operations: Stephan Liebrecht

Stephen Meah-Sims - Executive Director (Strategy, Change and Governance)

Head and shoulders shot of Stephen Meah-Sims

Stephen is responsible for leading on the Council’s transformation agenda that ensures the organisation and its staff are enabled to deliver the best possible outcomes for the people of Southend.

Stephen is responsible for a broad range of service areas that include:

  • Corporate strategy (policy, strategic communications, knowledge and data privacy, insights, community engagement and service design)
  • HR, LD, and payroll
  • ICT
  • Legal Services (including Monitoring Officer)
  • Democratic services, member support and the mayoralty
  • Electoral registration and elections
  • Emergency and business continuity planning
  • Local land charges


Director of Digital and ICT: Carol Thomas

Director of Legal Services: Giles Gilbert

Salary and Expenses

The council's chief officer pay structure consists of 4 senior management grades as follows;

  • SMG1 (Chief Executive): £188,237
  • SMG3a (Executive Directors): £125,152
  • SMG3 (Directors): £96,544
  • Director of Public Health: £102,234 (NHS terms and conditions)

These are spot salaries and reflect the 'rate for the job'. However there is the facility to recruit to these posts on a 'development rate' for the first 12 months to allow the candidate to grow into the full role. This rate is calculated at 90% of the 'rate for the job'. This does not apply to the Director of Public Health, as this rate is in line with NHS terms and conditions.

The Chief Executive and Deputy Chief Executive are entitled to 37 days annual leave (33 days for Executive Directors). They are entitled to be members of the Local Government Pension Scheme and pay 11.4% of their salary into this scheme. The council makes an employer contribution of 21.9% into the scheme.

Contact switchboard and out of hours

Telephone: 01702 215000

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