New council chief says Norwich must fight to avoid losing out to North over government cash

Stephen Evans, the new chief executive of Norwich City Council. Pic: Norwich City Council.

Stephen Evans, the new chief executive of Norwich City Council. Pic: Norwich City Council. - Credit: Norwich City Council

The new chief executive of Norwich City Council hopes his 'fresh pair of eyes' will help City Hall deal with the challenges facing local government.

And Stephen Evans, who started his tenure as the top officer at the council last month, said it was vital cities such as Norwich do not miss out when Whitehall's focus has shifted to "levelling up" the north of England.

Mr Evans, who succeeds Laura McGillivray after her 14 year stint at the helm of City Hall, said: "It's going to be an ongoing challenge for local government. We're a month away from the government's budget and there's a lot of talk about levelling up.

"There's going to be challenges, particularly for a city like Norwich. We're likely see more money for social care, but that goes to the county. The demand for services is going up, but the expectation about services is also increasing.

"We have got to stand on our own two feet financially and I think Norwich has negotiated the last 10 years pretty well. We have balanced the budget without big hits to frontline services.

"The government is talking about levelling up, but that has to be about more than just the North. We have to be part of the conversation."

Mr Evans said he was impressed by what he had seen at City Hall so far and had particular praise for the authority's Home Options and homelessness teams.

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He said the issue of homelessness, as well as that of County Lines, needed to be tackled through partnership working.

He said such partnership working had helped produce the Norwich 2040 vision and said: "It's great to have that clear vision and strategy, which is one of the best I have seen."

Mr Evans has joined the council from the Royal Borough of Kingston in London, where he was director of communities.

He previously worked at the Treasury for nine years and spent six years at Barnet Council.

He was already living in Norwich before he secured his new job.

His wife Kate hails from Norfolk and they and their twins had relocated from London to the county.

He said: "I think I'm bringing a fresh pair of eyes to some of the challenges we are facing.

"We are a forward looking authority, with a vision and strategy and it's how we deliver that."