THE head of the Conservative opposition at Waltham Forest Council has praised its proposed new chief executive, saying he is the best man for the job.

Earlier this week it was announced that senior officer Martin Esom had been chosen for the top post by a cross-party panel, pending approval by the full council.

Mr Esom, who has a close working relationship with the Labour leadership, is an experienced officer with a long history at the council but has been the subject of criticism over his pay and performance in the past.

But local Tory leader Cllr Matt Davis, who was on the panel which unanimously chose Mr Esom for the role, said he was confident that the right decision had been made.

Cllr Davis said: "I believe that he's done a very good job in the interim period as acting chief executive.

"He's also did very well sorting out the environment directorate and he was very effective with sorting out the mess that was Ascham Homes."

Cllr Davis said he did not buy the argument that the council should make a break from its past by appointing someone from outside the authority.

He said: "He [Mr Esom] has a good knowledge of how the council works and that is a positive thing.

"We advertised for the job internationally and when it came to it he was the best person for it."

Mr Esom, who has worked for the council for four years, also spoke today for the first time publicly about his proposed appointment.

In a statement he said: “I’m looking forward to taking on this role and am extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to do so.

“Like every other local authority Waltham Forest is operating in uncertain times, but we have already proven ourselves able to meet difficult challenges head-on in order to improve the lives of our residents.

"This resilience is an attribute I will be looking to draw upon as chief executive and something I know will help see us through the challenging times ahead.”

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