A post Covid 'reset' will see big changes both inside and outside of Cheshire West and Chester Council in the coming years, the authority's new top officer has revealed. 

Speaking in her first interview with the Guardian since taking over as Chief Executive in the summer, Del Curtis said the council was emerging from the Covid era with a 'new borough plan' that would re-imagine how services were delivered between 2024-28.

She also said she wanted to make the council an 'employer of choice' so it could attract and retain top staff, and said she was also committed to pursuing a devolution deal which would give Cheshire West, Cheshire East and Warrington more collective control over their finances and strategic direction, in a similar way to that enjoyed by the neighbouring Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

"After Covid, we're coming out of recovery mode. I feel like we're entering a new era so we're going into a reset, becoming a new re energized council." She said.

"I think now's the opportunity to say 'well what what do we want to look like in two, three, four or five years' time?'. And that's that's where we're directing our energies."

She said a consultation called 'join the conversation' would gather views  about the services people wanted in the future.

She also highlighted the work of the Co-operative Councils' Innovation Network, an alliance of local authorities including Cheshire West that believes traditional models of 'top-down governance' are 'no longer fit for purpose', and instead advocates projects delivered in partnership with communities and other organisations.

She said: "If you've heard our leader talk, she talks very much about wanting to be a cooperative council, part of the cooperative council network and actually doing things 'with' our communities and residents as opposed to doing it 'for' them."

Originally from Cardiff, the married mum of six joined Cheshire West and Chester Council in 2017 and took the helm from Andrew Lewis earlier this year, who left to take the top job at Liverpool City Council.  She said Cheshire West and Chester was ‘unique and diverse’ due to the fact it was built around four towns, all of which were 'unique'.

She added that she wanted to make the council more visible to those communities in the future. She also said partnership working and a potential devolution deal for Cheshire would be priorities.

She said: “We know that we need to be plugged into all of the different groups, whether it's Transport for the North, whether it's the  Mersey Dee Alliance, whether it's linking in with Greater Manchester , Liverpool City Region, or whether it's really focusing on our work across the sub region, because at some point, we will want some sort of devolved deal for our sub region. We want to encourage that investment.”

One of the problems facing the council she said was recruiting to specific posts, namely social workers and planning staff. Speaking at the council’s Portal building in Ellesmere Port where hot desking and hybrid working is now the norm, she added: “We want to have that modern workforce so we're very much about work/life balance, lovely working environments, different bases.

"It's about how are we going to encourage new talent to come into the organisation, how we're going to succession plan and how we create a great environment to work in.”