A NEW man is set to take the helm at Hampshire County Council.

John Coughlan is set to be appointed as the authority’s next chief executive at a meeting next week.

The current deputy chief executive and director of children’s services will replace Andrew Smith in the £207,000 a year role at the council.

In May it was announced that Mr Smith was standing down from the top job at the council and retiring after eight years in the role and having worked for the council for more than 25 years.

The council says it had applications from across the country for the role but its Member Appointment Panel met on Friday (Oct 9) and has recommended that Mr Coughlan be appointed.

The final decision on whether Mr Coughlan takes on the position will be made by all of the authority’s councillors at its next full meeting on October 22.

Mr Coughlan, pictured, has worked for the council since 2005 when he took over as children’s services boss having worked as a director of social care at Telford and Wrekin Council and assistant director for children and families in Dudley.

The Government appointed him to temporarily take over children’s services in the London Borough of Haringey in 2008 to help improve services after the death of youngster Peter Connolly, known as “Baby P”.

And two years ago he took on responsibility for improving failing services on the Isle of Wight as part of a partnership with the county council.

He has also served as president of the Association of Directors of Social Services and joint president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services and was awarded a CBE in 2009 for his work in children’s services.

Leader Roy Perry said: “John Coughlan’s experience, knowledge of the county council and abilities shone through during the appointment process. We believe we have found an inspirational and visionary leader who will lead the Authority as it continues this journey of transformation and modernisation.

“As head of paid service, the chief executive is responsible, through the council leader, for managing an overall annual budget of around £2 billion, a workforce of around 37,000 and for providing services for 1.3 million people across the county.

“The people of Hampshire rightly expect a high quality service from the county council, which requires us to ensure that we are continually pushing boundaries with innovative and efficient methods of working. To do this we need the best people working for us.

“The challenges faced in public services, between now and end of the decade also mean that it is essential that we have a strong successor to take forward the county council’s ambition to be a modern business providing public services.”