THE interim chief executive of Newport council has quit, criticising what she claims is a “pre-determined” recruitment process for a new permanent top boss.

Sheila Davies, who has held the interim chief executive post since October, has told councillors she is withdrawing from the process and given notice that she is terminating her contract.

In an email seen by the Argus, Ms Davies said: “It is with genuine disappointment and sadness, therefore, that I am writing to withdraw from the process and give notice of immediate termination of my current interim contract.


“This is because it has been made clear to me that this expensive process is not legitimate, as it has a pre-determined outcome, which will favour the appointment of an inexperienced internal candidate, in other words, my application will not be seriously considered, despite me having had no adverse feedback on my performance and the extensive contributions I have made to the council’s activities and planning over the last six months.”

It is understood Ms Davies was one of five candidates in the running for the role.

In the email, Ms Davies outlines her ‘achievements’ since being appointed which include setting a balanced budget after inheriting a predicted deficit of £2 million in October.

It also includes initiating “unprecedented, formal disciplinary investigations against several senior staff in one service area, in response to multiple serious allegations of gross misconduct by them.”

Ms Davies goes on to say that she wants to continue to serve the people the people of Newport, “not least in the present crisis”, but that she would need the full support of councillors.

“To ensure continuity in this difficult period, if requested, I would consider an extension of my current contract for a period of six months, with the resumption of an appropriate competitive appointment process to a substantive post of chief executive, to be in place by the end of that period,” she adds.

Cllr Carmel Townsend, leader of the council’s Liberal Democrat group, said there are “serious questions to answer.”

“What is meant by there being a pre-determined outcome?” she said. “The people of Newport deserve so much better at this time of crisis.”

She called for a completely independent panel to be set up for the recruitment process, replacing the current one which is cross-party.

“Too much money was spent on this process that now looks like it was a sham,” she added.

But Tory group leader Cllr Matthew Evans stood by the existing processes and said there is “no reason to suggest the outcome (for the post) is already known.”

A spokeswoman for the council said: “It is unfortunate that the interim chief executive has chosen to tender their resignation at this time.

“We would like to thank them for their contribution to the city and wish them well in the future.”


The council said it has been “successful in reaching a broad field of potential candidates and we have received an excellent number and calibre of applications.”

“In line with the council’s constitution, the selection process is carried out by a cross-party panel of elected members, supported by external specialists in the assessment of applicants,” the spokeswoman added.

“This panel included members from all parties represented in Newport including the Independents, Conservatives, Labour and Cllr Townsend for the Liberal Democrats.

“Following shortlisting and the final selection process, full council is required to ratify the decision – this cannot and will not be bypassed. As full council meetings are postponed due to the COVID-19 response, it is anticipated that ratification of any appointment is not likely to be made until late June.

“Therefore, the process is currently being paused while both the member and officer leadership of the council is focusing on supporting the people, communities and business of Newport during this unprecedented time.”