Newham Council appoints new Chief Executive

Abii 3

Following the conclusion of a comprehensive recruitment process, Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz OBE is delighted to announce that Abi Gbago has been recommended for appointment as Newham Council’s permanent Chief Executive, subject to approval by members at a meeting of Full Council on Wednesday 19th July 2023.

The appointment of Abi Gbago as the Council’s permanent Chief Executive brings an exceptional leader to Newham with a strong record of accomplishment in driving excellence in public service delivery and for the public good. Her career in local government includes currently the Executive Director of Children and Education at Bristol City Council with responsibilities including community safety and employment, skills and learning. Working closely with Mayor of Bristol, cabinet members and the senior leadership team in one of the largest Core City Councils in the UK, she has been instrumental in developing and implementing a transformation programme to deliver improved services and a sustainable budget over the next five years.

Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz OBE said: “I am happy to announce that Abi Gbago has been recommended to be the Council’s permanent Chief Executive. She is a leader who is passionate about our people focussed manifesto and will bring a dynamism to accelerate the Council’s ‘Building a Fairer Newham’ plans to ensure we deliver the positive outcomes we want for all our residents. Abi shares our vision for Newham to become an exemplar in local government, delivering ‘best in class’ local services.

I’m really looking forward to working with Abi as she leads Newham Council’s 4,500 dedicated officers at a time of great challenge because of the cost-of-living crisis. I also want to thank Colin Ansell, our interim Chief Executive, for his dedication and leadership over the past 14 months. He has won our admiration and respect; and his achievements as our interim Chief Executive has laid down crucial groundwork as we now progress into this next phase of transforming the Council with Abi at the helm.”

Commenting on her appointment, Abi Gbago said: “I am delighted to be appointed as Chief Executive for Newham Council, joining Mayor Fiaz and her administration who are committed to transforming the borough to benefit every resident. I share their vision and ambition for improving the opportunities available to residents in Newham while tackling the inequalities and barriers that exist. This is an exciting opportunity to lead the Council in delivering excellence for our residents and the borough as a whole.”

Commenting on the outcome, Interim Chief Executive, Colin Ansell said: “It has been a privilege and an honour to have led the borough that I was born and raised in, over the past 14 months. I would like to put on record my thanks to the Mayor, Cabinet and the Corporate Management Team. I also want to thank our staff, so many of whom I have spent time with since becoming the interim Chief Executive, and who work tirelessly week in week out to support our residents with such passion. I would like to wish Abi all the very best in the role.”

With strong credentials in transformation and change, Abi’s career started in Lambeth Council, leading the borough’s five-year ‘Young & Safe’ strategic partnership plans to reduce serious violence facing children and young people as well as drive improvements in Lambeth’s Youth Offending Service following its failed inspection. At the Royal Borough of Greenwich, she led the procurement and implementation of the Children Services Case Management Systems as part of the Council’s service area improvement plans. She was strategic lead and Head for Early Help and family support services at the London Borough of Islington before becoming Head of Housing Partnerships; and subsequently Assistant Director of Policy and Commissioning for Children Services.

Returning to Lambeth Council, she spent time as their Director of Integrated Children’s Commissioning and Community Safety before joining the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham as Strategic Director of Inclusive Growth. Her responsibilities there included regeneration; place making; economic development; employment and skills; Net Zero and sustainability; culture and heritage; parks and leisure commissioning; and housing strategy.

The robust recruitment process for the Chief Executive of Newham culminated with interviews by the Council’s Chief Appointments Committee chaired by Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz OBE on Monday 10th July 2023. It also included technical assessments and panel interviews with key stakeholders, residents and young people. Subject to the appointment being approved at a meeting of Full Council on Wednesday 19th July 2023, Abi Gbago will start her role as permanent Chief Executive in the Autumn 2023 with Colin Ansell continuing as interim Chief Executive until that time.

Published: 12 Jul 2023