Outgoing Peterborough City Council chief executive nominated for Freedom of the City honour

Peterborough City Council’s outgoing chief executive has been nominated for Freedom of the City in recognition of her near 40 years of public service.

By Ben Jones
Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 6:33 am
Gillian Beasley.
Gillian Beasley.

Gillian Beasley will retire in December after a long career which has seen her play a key part in transforming Peterborough into a modern-day city.

She joined the city council in 1997 when it became a unitary authority, having previously worked for Cambridgeshire County Council. Beginning as director of law and administration, she rose to the role of chief executive in 2002, a position she has held since that time.

She has also been chief executive of the county council since 2015 - making her the first person to be the head of two local authorities at the same time - and served as Peterborough’s returning officer at elections.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Gillian Beasley.

The decision to nominate her for Freedom of the City has been made by the city council’s Honours Panel, with a vote to be held at a Special Council meeting next week (December 8).

Chairman of the Honours Panel, Councillor Peter Hiller, said: “Gillian has been a tireless champion for Peterborough ever since she joined the council, working day and night to improve the lives of all people living here.

“I have witnessed first-hand her dedication to the city. Not only has she championed Peterborough and lobbied hard to make sure it gets the resources it needs from government, she has worked relentlessly with colleagues at the council and at other public bodies to deliver substantial change.

“I cannot think of anyone who has not enjoyed working with Gillian, who is kind, courteous and able to work with people from all backgrounds and unite them together. She has also been a champion for our many communities, helped raise thousands of pounds for charity and is an inspiration to young women everywhere.

“For those reasons there were no doubts in nominating her for the most prestigious honour we can bestow as a city.”

Gillian’s career began as a trainee lawyer with Leeds City Council in 1983. During her career she has advised governments on children’s law, migration impacts, government housing and cohesion, and has served on various commissions. She has also led on complex child sexual exploitation cases, which helped inform and shape local government practice. As chair of a national charity, UNITAS, she helped young people access and progress in mainstream education and training through involvement with the arts.

Furthermore, she was influential in negotiating with the Government on the setting up of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, the county’s mayoral body.

In 2009, she received an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list for services to local government. She also holds an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration from Anglia Ruskin University and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Gillian will be replaced in Peterborough by Matt Gladstone, who is currently executive director for place at Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council.