SENIOR town councillors in Skipton have welcomed the appointment of a new chief officer following a ‘turbulent couple of years’ which has seen the departure of at least four members of staff.

Louise Close, formerly chief officer at Ilkley Town Council, lives in the Dales and at one time ran The Kings Head in Kettlewell. She has been acting clerk at Skipton Town Council since Dave Parker, the council’s former chief officer, left last year, around the same time as three other senior members of staff.

Skipton Mayor, Karen McIntyre said she was really pleased by the appointment.

She said: “I can already see how she is leading the way to rebuild the disharmony amongst staff and councillors who are now working together for the good of the town and its residents and I’m excited to see what the future holds for Skipton Town Council.”

Mrs Close, who is married and has two young daughters, has lived in the Dales for almost 20 years after settling in the area after selling The Kings Head in Kettlewell.

She has previously been a national sales manager for various food companies and has 15 years experience of local government, gaining her Certificate in Local Council Administration (CiLCA) qualification in 2018.

“Skipton Town Council has had a turbulent couple of years which are now behind us,” said Mrs Close.

“Most councillors have completed the ‘good councillor’ training and have a training plan to be rolled out over the next 12 months.

“We are making lots of changes and positive moves and everyone is coming together to bring the town council back up to a professional, active and responsible first tier level of (local) government with the people of Skipton at the forefront of councillors’ minds.”

She added: “We still have a way to go, but this is now approached with a positive outlook by everyone.”

Deputy mayor, Cllr Darren Shaw, said: “Louise has a wealth of knowledge across all sectors and is fully qualified in local government legislation. She has brought harmony to the council and its staff to work in an open and transparent way."

In January, it was revealed that a £44,000 investigation into alleged corruption at the council failed to find any wrongdoing.

The investigation, instigated by a small number of councillors and approved by the full council found ‘no evidence whatsoever of corruption or fraudulent activity’.

A separate probe by the police also found no wrongdoing.

In August, last year, all of the then members of staff came out in support of the then council leader, Cllr Robert Heseltine, following a vote of no confidence by two of his previous party colleagues, Cllr Darren Shaw and Cllr Richard Judge.

Cllrs Shaw and Judge accused Cllr Heseltine of causing disharmony on the council, but the entire staff said it was not Cllr Heseltine, but a 'small group of councillors' who were to blame, and described how the authority had reached a ‘new low’.