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Exeter City Council Chief Executive retiring after golden decade

Published: 21 December 2022

Karime Hassan Exeter City Council Chief Executive and Growth Director Karime Hassan

Exeter City Council Chief Executive and Growth Director Karime Hassan has announced he is stepping down from the Council at the end of March.

The Council’s current Deputy Chief Executive Bindu Arjoon will become Interim Chief Executive from April 1 pending the outcome of work that the Council is doing with the Local Government Association in the New Year.

Karime, 60, has overseen a huge growth in the economy during the last decade and overseen expansion which has seen Exeter become an economic powerhouse and an internationally recognised city of culture.

He said the time was right to step down after almost 10 years as Chief Executive and overseeing a series of high-profile successes which have transformed the city.

Karime was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to government in the Queen’s New Year Honours in 2021.

His work with partners across the city has developed a strong culture of collaboration in support of Exeter’s vision for a healthy, inclusive and sustainable city.

His work with partners across the region has seen Exeter’s economy grow faster than anywhere else in the South West and among the fastest growing in the UK.

Exeter’s reputation as a major retail destination saw the likes of IKEA and John Lewis attracted to the city after careful negotiation. Karime has advanced the city’s sustainability goals with the low carbon task force and Exeter City Futures Community Interest Company.

He has overseen the Council’s pioneering Passivhaus building programme and celebrated the city’s numerous national successes including being a host city for the Rugby World Cup.

Karime said: “My decision to retire from the Council has been very difficult but I think the time is right for me personally and for the organisation.

“I have undertaken a number of roles connected with the city of Exeter for 23 years, during this time I have worked with some outstanding colleagues, leaders and institutions, and I have witnessed the amazing progress of the city.

“It has been a privilege to be part of the collective endeavour and to play a small part in building a stronger city.

“I am delighted that Bindu will now continue this work and despite the considerable challenges that government austerity has caused for local government finance, I know that Exeter can look forward to a bright future if we continue to work together to deliver our common goals.”

Council Leader Phil Bialyk said: “I want to thank Karime for everything that he has done for Exeter. He has helped to transform the city in recent years and had the vision, when working with previous leader Pete Edwards and most recently with myself, to take the big decisions which have made such a difference to Exeter.

“The successes we’ve enjoyed are too numerous to mention here, but I have to highlight the building of the UK’s first Passivhaus leisure centre and the UK’s first Passivhaus extra care facility.

“These are really significant achievements which have put Exeter on the map internationally. Neither project would have been possible without the vision, drive and energy that Karime has brought to the role.

“His work through the Place Board has brought together all the key organisations in Exeter and it is his leadership of place which has been truly unique. He leaves a significant legacy to build on and he will be sorely missed by everyone in the city.”

Cllr Bialyk added: “I am delighted that we can announce that Bindu will become our Interim Chief Executive.

“Bindu has been part of our leadership team here at the Council for many years and brings a wealth of experience, skills and expertise to the job at what is a challenging time for local government.

“I know Bindu will be a great success and I very much look forward to starting a new chapter in the successful story of our great city.”

Bindu’s academic background is in Economics. Currently the Council’s Deputy Chief Executive, Bindu has been responsible for the its transformation programme and has held leadership responsibility for the Council’s housing stock, strategic housing, planning, housing needs and homelessness, customer services, welfare reform, revenues, benefits and business rates.

Having been in local government leadership for 19 years, Bindu has led various services including business transformation through service review and redesign, ICT, human resources, corporate planning, strategic partnerships, crime reduction and community involvement. Bindu is a member of the Local Government Association’s Peer Review programme and is a qualified Executive Leadership Coach.

Bindu is passionate about supporting young people to achieve their potential, volunteering her time to be Chair of the Governing Body of St Leonards Primary School and St Peter’s Secondary School.  Bindu is currently Chair of the Corporation of Exeter College.

She has recently led the transformational One Exeter work programme, designed to enable the Council to provide better and more efficient services and deliver the financial savings that need to be made by April 2025. One Exeter aims to transform the way we work, support and develop staff, and ensure a fit for purpose council.

Bindu is leading on the current budget setting process which will be particularly challenging this year in light of the significant financial pressures currently faced by all local authorities.

Bindu said: “I want to thank Karime for everything he has done to make Exeter such a successful, thriving city with a brilliant quality of life and a city where people can reach their full potential.

“I am delighted and very proud to have been appointed Interim Chief Executive and I look forward to continuing the work that has made Exeter so successful in recent years.

“We also know that we face a number of significant challenges, which I will be working hard to overcome together with everyone at the Council. Not least of which is the very challenging budget that we will need to set next year to balance the books and ensure the Council remains on a sound financial footing.

“Against a backdrop of significantly reduced Government funding in recent years and the spiralling costs of energy, together with the very significant inflationary pressures, the budget will be tough.

“But we will maintain and improve our frontline and statutory services and by making difficult decisions now we will ensure that we are well placed to continue to thrive as a city in the future. I am committed to continuing to work with our partners locally to ensure that we are all playing our role in continuing to deliver successes for the city.

“I want to thank all the staff at the Council for their continued support and hard work day in, day out, in providing services for our residents.”

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