North Ayrshire Council Chief Executive Elma Murray has emerged as one of the front-runners to take over at Scotland’s largest local authority, Glasgow City Council.
The top job in Glasgow will become vacant at the end of the year when the current Chief Executive, George Black, retires. Mr Black (61), who has been in post since 1990, suffered a major heart attack five years ago.
Glasgow has a population of around 600,000: the City Council has an annual budget of £2.3bn and employs 30,000 staff directly and through partner agencies.
Elma Murray, who worked for Glasgow City Council before taking-up the top job at North Ayrshire in 2009, is said to be highly-regarded amongst senior councillors at George Square. If she succeeded Mr Black she would be the city’s first female Chief Executive.
Ms Murray recently served as Chair of SOLACE Scotland (Society of Local Authority Chief Executives). Earlier in her local government career she worked in the IT department at North Ayrshire Council before moving to Strathclyde Police and then Glasgow City Council.
Previously, Elma Murray spoke of her role as North Ayrshire’s Chief Executive, saying, “When I took over we had a lot of things we were working on, all of which were really relevant but in terms of prioritising and being clear about the things we absolutely needed to make progress on, there was a lot there. We have honed that now and have a much smaller number of core objectives. I would say we have much more clarity around what people are doing and trying to achieve. The big thing for me was getting everyone to align behind the economy and economic development.”
Ms Murray also reflected on the political change at the Council when the SNP replaced Labour as the administration following the local government election in May 2012, noting, “It was a big change because Labour had run the council for over 30 years in North Ayrshire and then previously Cunninghame District. Moving to an SNP administration has been a real shift. However, it has been really exciting and challenging as well, to understand what the new administration is looking for from the officers in terms of setting their policy and direction, and how we work with them as a broader leadership team.”