Cornwall Council's new chief Paul Masters 'will put people first'
The man who will step into the breach after Cornwall Council's current chief executive quits, has called for "politics to be taken out of local government".
Paul Masters will serve as interim chief executive when Kevin Lavery leaves next month for New Zealand.
For the past four years Mr Masters has been Mr Lavery's right-hand man, working as assistant chief executive.
The job is for six months at a salary level of between £158,000 and £175,000.
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By the end of that period a new council will have been voted into power in the May elections.
It will be for the new administration to decide whether or not they want to continue with a chief executive post.
Plymouth-born Mr Masters, 50, has worked in local government in Cornwall for 32 years and takes over at a time when the council is tackling massive cuts in central government funding.
The married father-of-two said local government came about to help those struggling at the bottom of the social pile and not to play party politics.
He said: "In the 1800s when local government came into play it was about helping the poor and the disadvantaged.
"There's no place for politics in local government and it has to be taken out. It's about delivering services to the people and deciding what services people want.
"The biggest issues facing us now are obviously the cuts. Secondly we're in the middle of a massive social experiment with the welfare state changing and the concept of the Big Society.
"With a shrinking public sector people will have to become less reliant on the state.
"It really annoys me when I'm driving behind someone and they throw litter out of the window.
"They're expecting the taxpayer to pick up the bill to clean-up their mess."
As a youngster his family moved from Devon to the Launceston area – he now lives between Grampound Road and St Stephen, Cornwall.
His wife Nickki is a trainee accountant and book-keeper and the couple have two children – George, 21, who works at St Austell Town Council and Bethany, 14, who is at school in Truro.
He studied at Launceston College and went on to graduate from Plymouth Art College and toyed with the idea of becoming a graphic artist.
By the summer of 1981 the 19-year-old Mr Masters and a friend were considering joining the RAF to become pilots.
However, his mother spotted a job advertisement in the WMN for a position at the now defunct North Cornwall District Council (NCDC) as a trainee environmental health officer, which he applied for and got.
Mr Masters said: "At college I learned how to fly gliders – I had a licence for a while. My friend went onto become a Tornado pilot while I began a 32-year career in local government.
"I don't regret it – I've always been strongly committed to local government and have been interested in helping the disadvantaged and that's what I want to get on and do."
After working in various departments he went on to work for the former Cornwall Council on a part-time basis for the executive, at the same time working as part of a small team to help NCDC during the transition to the new unitary authority.
He said: "It would be silly to say I wouldn't want the new job to be permanent otherwise I wouldn't have thrown my hat into the ring. I feel I really know Cornwall and want to do the best I can for the people."