NEW city council chief executive Andrew Kerr officially began work today, acknowledging the authority faced “major challenges” due to falling budgets.
Mr Kerr, who has previously held senior posts in Wiltshire, Cardiff and Cornwall councils, has experience of major cost-cutting drives.
Edinburgh must find savings of £67 million by 2018 due to funding reductions and it is understood Mr Kerr’s track record in overseeing “change” and spending cuts was a key factor in his appointment.
The Falkirk-born former athlete began his 32-year public sector career managing Grangemouth Sports Complex.
He later led an award- winning development programme at Birmingham City Council and was credited with “turning around” the finances of North Tyneside Council while chief executive there.
He was chosen for the Edinburgh job by a panel of senior councillors who split four-three in favour of handing him the £160,000-a-year job rather than the council’s number two official, Alastair Maclean.
Mr Kerr, 56, succeeds Dame Sue Bruce, who retired last week after nearly five years in the post.
Although today is his official start date, it is understood Mr Kerr has been in regular contact with senior officials and made several visits to the Capital since his appointment was officially confirmed in May.
He said today: “This is a tremendous opportunity to lead one of the most high-profile local authorities in the UK.
“There are undoubtedly major challenges ahead with increasing demands for council services and reducing budgets, but I will do my utmost to ensure that the council continues to work hard for the city and everyone who lives, works, visits and invests here.
“A great deal has been achieved in Edinburgh in recent years, and there’s still much more to aim for, and I am looking forward to working closely with elected members, officers and our partners to ensure that we build on those successes.
“Of course, on a personal level, it is also great to return home, particularly when I still have family, including my parents, based here in Scotland.”
Council leader Andrew Burns said it was clear Mr Kerr had the qualities needed for the role and pointed to the success earlier this month of negotiations for a Devolution Deal for Cornwall, the first rural authority in England to be offered one.
Edinburgh is currently working with its five neighbouring local authorities to pursue a similar deal for the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region.
Councillor Burns said: “Andrew brings significant experience of leading and delivering change in the public sector and has achieved success in securing a Devolution Deal for Cornwall – all of which is very encouraging as he moves into his new role. I’m sure he’ll hit the ground running.”