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Departing ABC chief is praised by council leader Gerry Clarkson as he prepares to quit the civic centre

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Ashford Borough Council's chief executive John Bunnett is departing - for a new private sector job.

Mr Bunnett has been at the helm of the council for the past six years, having joined Ashford from Thanet District Council in 2009.

He replaced David Hill and described being chief executive as his "dream job".

ABC chief executive John Bunnett
ABC chief executive John Bunnett

His tenure has seen major change in the town and borough and he says he's proud to have overseen the council's move from being a local authority doing things in a traditional way to having a more commercial outlook.

Mr Bunnett said: “The time is right for me to step aside and hand over the reins to someone else. This is a key time for the council as we enter the next phase of the borough’s regeneration, and fresh impetus at the top of the organisation will help drive that progress forward.

“I came here with a job to do in terms of improving service delivery and kick-starting Ashford’s town centre regeneration and feel that I’ve achieved that.

"It was always my intention to go back to the private sector and after six wonderful years at the council it’s time for me to move on.

“We have achieved a lot together, and of particular importance for me has been regenerating Ashford town centre.

The civic centre in Ashford
The civic centre in Ashford
Ashford Council leader Cllr Gerry Clarkson
Ashford Council leader Cllr Gerry Clarkson

"I am confident that the new cinema and its associated restaurants, the college, brewery, hotel and major office development, along with the delivery of what will be the UK’s premier designer outlet, will transform our town and make it the kind of place all of us can be proud of.”

Council leader Cllr Gerry Clarkson said: “John Bunnett has been an inspirational chief executive and has been instrumental in driving forward major projects that are set to greatly improve this borough."

Cllr Clarkson said Mr Bunnett had been "pivotal" in changing the ethos of the organisation and implementing change that has resulted in the council being more proactive and having a sharper commercial focus.

The result, he said, was that Ashford Borough Council is now one of the most forward-thinking authorities in the county.

Mr Bunnett is going to work for the Brett Group. He will remain in his post for the next couple of months until a replacement is appointed.

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