Liverpool City Council appoints new corporate director of city development

Nualla Gallagher

Liverpool City Council has appointed a new corporate director of city development.

Nuala Gallagher will take the role which the authority has been seeking to fill since the dismissal of former director of regeneration, Nick Kavanagh, in 2021.

Mr Kavanagh was arrested in his Cunard Building office in December 2019 as part of the Merseyside Police Operation Aloft swoop. He was rearrested on September 30, 2020, on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery.

He has not been charged and denies any wrongdoing, but he was suspended from his role and dismissed from his £145k position in March 2021 following a disciplinary hearing. He lost an unfair dismissal case in July 2022, on the grounds his case “was not well founded”.

Ms Gallagher’s appointment is part of a reorganisation of the council’s top team following the appointment of government commissioners in June 2021, to oversee certain aspects of the authority.

The then Local Government Secretary, Robert Jenrick, decided to send in independent commissioners to improve the running of the local authority following publication of the Max Caller report in March that year into how the council was being run following the arrest of five people linked to Operation Aloft investigations.

Mr Jenrick said the report outlined “multiple apparent failures” within the Labour-run authority which he said paints a “deeply concerning picture” with a “pervasive and rotten culture”.

The council is also seeking to appoint a chief executive after Tony Reeves announced he was stepping down from the role in July 2022, a month before a second damning report by the independent commissioners into the running of the council. Former Trafford Council chief executive Theresa Grant is currently the interim chief executive.

Other senior roles the council is seeking to fill are new corporate directors for neighbourhoods and housing, finance and resources, and children and young people.

Ms Gallagher will lead a team of 300 staff and a department with a budget of £86m.

She is current director of planning, environment and placemaking at Limerick City and County Council, and will take up the reins in Liverpool from interim director Mark Bourgeois, at the end of March.

The role will focus on driving Liverpool’s economic growth and delivering sustainable development across the city centre and communities, including overseeing major schemes such as Anfield Square, Kings Dock, Paddington Village, Festival Gardens and the Littlewoods site.

Ms Gallagher will also be responsible for overseeing planning, property and asset management, an investment strategy, as well as skills, adult learning and environmental and sustainability policies.

She has amassed more than two decades of experience in development and placemaking internationally and is also currently a board member of Limerick Twenty Thirty, a property development company.

Her previous roles include head of regeneration for the London Borough of Newham, director for economy of place at Bristol City Council and director of city centre development at Belfast City Council.

She has also spent time working in New York, leading on sustainable urban development and teaching at Columbia University. She is a registered architect and a graduate of Columbia University with a Masters in Urban Design.

The authority said she will work closely with the Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson, interim chief executive Theresa Grant and the Government commissioners to continue the transformation of the city development directorate.

Theresa Grant said: “Nuala is a highly talented and inspiring leader, and will be a brilliant addition to the council’s senior management team at this critical juncture in our improvement journey.

“I have no doubt she will deliver real transformation in our approach to developing the city and driving economic growth and skills, building on the work interim director Mark Bourgeois has started.”

Nuala Gallagher said: “I’m delighted to be joining Liverpool City Council, this job is a huge opportunity to help shape the future of a city which has an incredible amount of untapped potential.

“I am very much looking forward to working with the talented team who are working hard to deliver long term improvements for the city’s residents. My focus will be on ensuring Liverpool is a strong investable proposition, and driving forward its development in a way that is sustainable and benefits all our communities.”

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