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Joanne swaps Manchester for Birmingham

Joanne Roney CBE is to return to her native Birmingham to take up the newly-created post of managing director of its council.

Manchester City Council chief executive Joanne Roney CBE is to return to her native Birmingham to take up the newly-created post of managing director of its council.

Joanne has been chief executive of Manchester City Council since April 2017 when she became the first woman to serve as the council’s top officer.

During her time as chief executive, Children’s Services – which had been classed as inadequate by Ofsted back in 2014 – were transformed to the extent that by 2022 they were rated ‘Good.’ Adult care services were also improved, with an increased focus on early help and prevention. The Council’s determination to put children and young people at the heart of its services was recognised in 2022 when it was accepted onto UNICEF’s Child Friendly Cities and Communities programme.

Joanne also presided over the council’s response to two very different crises – the 22 May 2017 Manchester Arena terror attack and the Covid-19 pandemic.

As part of Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Joanne has also served as its lead officer on Skills, Education and Work for Greater Manchester.

Joanne was named MJ (Municipal Journal) Chief Executive of the Year in 2022, the same year Manchester City Council was named Council of the Year by Local Government Chronicle.

Joanne said: “I’ve loved my time in Manchester. It’s a wonderful city and I’m proud of what – together with colleagues, partners and the city’s political leadership – we’ve been able to achieve here. Whoever follows me as chief executive is inheriting an incredible role alongside a talented and dedicated leadership team.

“I might be an adopted Mancunian, and proud of it, but I’m a native Brummie and this was the only role which could have tempted me away. I began my career as an apprentice at Birmingham City Council at the age of 16 so the prospect of concluding it there as managing director, and helping the place where I grew up and my family still live rise to its current challenges, was a compelling one.”

Cllr Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Being chief executive of Manchester City Council is one of the best, arguably the best, jobs in local government. You get to be at the heart of our globally-recognised, growing city shaping how services are delivered and how our people and businesses can share in inclusive success.

“But I understand the emotional pull the Birmingham job has for Joanne and we wish her every success in her new role as she moves back home. We thank her for her service and her contribution to the city over the last seven years.

“As she would be the first to say, everything we do here is a team effort and she will leave behind a strong and talented management team with a clear vision of where the city is going, its strengths to be built upon and celebrated and the long-term challenges which we are addressing. It is, as ever, an exciting time in Manchester.”

Downtown in Business boss Frank McKenna commented: “This is a great coup for Birmingham. We have worked very closely with Joanne since she came to Manchester seven years ago – and she has been outstanding in her role.

“It was a huge challenge for her to follow Sir Howard Bernstein – but against many peoples expectations, she managed to do so. In fact, as Sir Richard Leese once told me, she didn’t fill Howard’s shoes – she brought he own. She had a different style and approach to Howard – but she was no less effective.

“We look forward to continuing our working relationship with her in the Midlands. I think this is very good news for Birmingham. And, as Bev Craig says, Joanne leaves behind a really strong executive team, so there is no doubt that Manchester will continue to go from strength to strength.

“But perhaps the best compliment I can pay to Joanne is – just as she was told she had an almost impossible task in replacing Howard – her successor will be told exactly the same thing. Roney will be a very hard act to follow.”

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