60 seconds with…  Susan Priest

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60 seconds with…  Susan Priest

Susan is Chief Executive of Folkestone & Hythe District Council and a member of DCN’s Chief Executives Group [DCN = District Council Network


What was your first job as an adult?

Creating a national benchmarking system for the British Chambers of Commerce when I was their Business Development Exec following their sponsorship of my PhD

What’s given you the most satisfaction in your career?

Supporting all my talented staff transform the culture of the council from one that was described as “toxic” when I took over as Chief Executive to one that was recognised nationally as the fourth best not-for-profit company to work for. We’re recognised for our exceptionally engaging and empowered workforce – well done team!

What’s the most exciting thing your organisation is doing?

Creating and now delivering Otterpool Park Garden Town on council-owned and controlled land, just off junction 11 of the M20 in Kent.

What single thing – not money or devolution – could most improve local government?

All Government departments fully recognising, appreciating the value and partnering with local government in the wide range of activities we undertake in supporting our places, our communities and our passion.

What is your biggest local government annoyance?

Those who disparage and bad-mouth public servants. ☹

What keeps you up at night?

That’s a tough call: either one of my two Vizslas or one of my two teenage sons.

Tell us something surprising about yourself

When I was growing up in the 1970s, I wasn’t able to wear the highly fashionable Toe Socks (yes, you remember them!) as I have Syndactyly. My sister wasn’t allowed to either as she had to show solidarity!

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5 Comments on 60 seconds with…  Susan Priest

  1. She believes all this crap .

  2. Remote Council Employee // September 1, 2023 at 14:57 // Reply


    1 – Priest worked at FHDC when it had a “toxic” culture and did nothing to change it – one has to ask why she didn’t speak up to bring about the change which was necessary.

    2 – She is asked: What is your biggest local government annoyance?

    And her response is:

    Those who disparage and bad-mouth public servants.

    What about previous officers who allowed all those contracts to overrun and “fraud” to be committed on her watch. Why did she allow some of them to leave with a settlement agreement and a pay off in some instances, without divulging the investigation findings?

    Perhaps this might be one reason why public servants in her organisation are bad-mouthed and disparaged.

    As an employee, I wouldn’t say the culture is “toxic”, but some officers are not very happy bunnies at all, because when we raise serious concerns, they are not acted on.

  3. Toxic when she joined – absolutely poisonous now! A horrible place to work – Teflon coated senior managers who are responsible for illegal practices and gross incompetence in their departments- yet they still continue in their job, merrily collecting their £90k + salaries. Rewards for failure 😞

  4. Susan Priest has exposed her Council Tax Payers to Civil Claims in the £millions. Alerted to frauds in her Planning Department, she let these frauds continue with her support. Princes Parade, a fraudulent Planning Permission, and which Monk was aware of as fraud in September 2021, has wasted between £4 nd £5 million. Priest is a disaster, but Justice is coming to her now. Scale of the frauds means I will be pressing for a custodial sentence for her and Monk and others. These are serious criminals operating from public offices and it is going to stop shortly

  5. Nobody likes a moaner, or somebody who constantly bad mouths; such behaviour simply creates a wall of contempt.
    However, the same is true of any company, council or organisation: one begets the other, a chicken and egg situation.
    I am sure the majority of local people would like to be proud of their council, feeling part of a team, after all, local people embrace local culture, so it follows, if FHDC are not recognising, accepting or embracing, local culture, then council is relatively divorced from the people when it throws up inappropriate housing, which generates much bad mouthing, amongst various issues, for example.
    A council that does not listen to constructive commentary, that frequently holds secret meetings, is not getting on board with the electorate, creating it’s own negative audience, by default.

    It is not unreasonable to expect council officers paid to do a job, to do it.

    Nobody likes a moaner, and nobody likes the cause of moaning.
    The solution is simple: less arrogance, cessation of questionable contracts, responsible monitoring, and control, of all construction projects, more listening, efficient positive response and, begin to respect, the humble voter.

    We can work together, we want to work together, we need a council prepared to work together, with the us, the public.

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