WLGA Chief Executive Steve Thomas CBE has announced his retirement at the end of 2018 after 30 years working in local government and 15 years in his current role.
Having been a local government officer for many years Mr Thomas first joined the WLGA in 2000, becoming Chief Executive in March 2004, which today makes him one of the longest-serving national level senior managers in the Welsh public sector.
After a number of varied occupations, including working as a miner and factory worker upon leaving school, Mr Thomas started his local government career at Islwyn Borough Council in 1988. He worked on the strategic project which led to the formation of Caerphilly County Borough Council in the 1996 local government reorganisation, where he then became a Chief Officer.
In recognition of his work, he was awarded a CBE in 2010 for services to local government.
Reflecting on his career, Mr Thomas CBE said:
“It has been rare privilege to serve local authorities and their partners in the fire authorities and national parks. Working at the national level, I have been fortunate to deal with elected members and officers across Wales and witness the superb work that they do. This has often been achieved in the most difficult of circumstances, delivering services which are the lifeblood of our communities in a climate of damaging austerity.
“As someone whose career spans the entirety of devolved era in Wales, I know how important local government is and in the era of austerity, Wales now more than ever needs a partnership of strong national government working with strong local government. Devolution without localism is an anathema. The new generation of leaders in WLGA are forceful and influential in making the case for communities and local democracy. I am delighted to have concluded my career working for some of the best and most dedicated politicians in Wales, led by the estimable Councillor Debbie Wilcox. They have placed their faith in me many times and given me some great opportunities for which I am very grateful.”
WLGA’s current Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Lifelong Learning, Leisure and Information Dr Chris Llewelyn will commence in post as Chief Executive on 1 January 2019.
Councillor Debbie Wilcox (Newport), WLGA Leader said:
“I have been privileged to have worked with Steve during the past year as WLGA leader. His wise counsel is valued by leaders and Ministers alike and his political instinct and intuition, his candour and his humour have meant he has served a series of leaders with distinction. In navigating the often choppy waters of central-local relations, Steve has sought to build consensus and shape a shared agenda but he has been steadfast in his defence of local democracy and local government and hasn’t shirked when ’speaking truth to power’ has been necessary.”
“His contribution not only to local government, but also to wider Welsh civil society in its formative period simply cannot be overestimated. As WLGA leader, I am truly grateful to Steve for his unwavering support and I wish him the very best on his well-earned retirement.”