In a surprise announcement, just a few weeks after taking up her position, the Chief Executive of Forward Swindon Limited, Karen Walker, has resigned and leaves the role with immediate effect.
The Chief Executive position will be filled on an interim basis by Ian Piper, who is currently Director of Development & Regeneration at the South West of England Regional Development Agency. Ian will join Forward Swindon on a six month secondment.
Karen Walker said: “My decision to resign has been taken for purely personal reasons. It is clear to me that Swindon has huge potential and a bright future. Forward Swindon Limited has a crucial role in joining up all the committed individuals and organisations in the borough to enable that potential to be fulfilled. I wish all involved every success.”
Cllr. Garry Perkins, Deputy Leader of the Council, said: “It was essential to move quickly and fill the Chief Executive position. It is obviously disappointing to see Karen go but we accept and respect her decision. It is important that we do not lose momentum and I am very pleased that Ian Piper, who has an excellent track record in this field and knows Swindon well, has agreed to take on the role until we can appoint someone on a permanent basis.”
Ian Piper said: “I’m excited about the opportunity to work in Swindon and play a key role in shaping the future of the borough. I will be looking to bring a sharp focus to the work that needs to be done to build on Swindon’s clear strengths and secure its future as a thriving regional hub."
Chief Executive of the South West RDA, Jane Henderson said: "Ian will do a first class job of leading Forward Swindon Limited. He brings a wealth of experience to the role and I am confident his appointment will be a great success. With the South West RDA set to be replaced in 18 months time, I am keen that our talented staff have opportunities to put their experience and professional skills to good use working with partners in the region.”
Staff at Forward Swindon Ltd. were told of Karen Walker’s departure and Ian Piper’s appointment this morning. Ian will meet with staff on Monday and begin moving into the role with immediate effect. Under the terms of the secondment he will be working for four days a week at Forward Swindon Ltd.
Forward Swindon Ltd. is the company charged with delivering the town’s regeneration, inward investment and economic and cultural development. It covers the whole borough, unlike the exclusively town centre role of the previous New Swindon Company.
Cllr. Perkins added: “We want to develop a thriving and dynamic borough and this will be achieved by stimulating business innovation, learning, regeneration and inward investment. Forward Swindon Ltd. is key to all of that.”