Joanna Killian quits Essex County Council chief executive role

Joanna Killian
Image caption Joanna Killian has been Essex County Council's chief executive since 2006, when Lord Hanningfield was leader

A £210,000-a-year council chief executive who faced criticism over her salary has said she is to quit after nine years.

Joanna Killian, who took up the role at Essex County Council in 2006, has accepted a job at accounting firm KPMG.

Ms Killian's tenure included a period when the council leader was Lord Hanningfield, jailed in 2011 for fiddling parliamentary expenses.

The former peer spent £286,000 on a council credit card.

In November 2012, Ms Killian told the BBC the council was looking into trying to recoup some of the money spent by Lord Hanningfield.

But last year, the authority decided not to pursue legal action to recover £51,000 which may have been spent inappropriately on the credit card - something the peer denied.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Lord Hanningfield was found to have spent £286,000 on an Essex County Council credit card

Ms Killian faced criticism in 2009 over her £230,000 salary after she took on the role of chief executive of Brentwood Borough Council alongside her Essex County Council job.

The arrangement came to an end in 2012.

Ms Killian said deciding to leave her post at the council was the hardest decision of her career.

"But after nearly nine years as chief executive, I feel the time is right for a change and there are exciting challenges presented by my new role," she said.

Current council leader David Finch said she had been an "exemplar" chief executive.

"Her leadership and undoubted skill in steering the council through the challenging times which have confronted all public services cannot be doubted," he said.

The council said no timetable had yet been established for her departure.

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