Crawley Borough Council has appointed Siraj Choudhury as Head of Legal, Governance and HR from 29 March.
The appointment followed “a rigorous selection process", which included a virtual presentation and panel interviews with officers and councillors, the local authority said.
It added that as the council’s principal legal advisor and monitoring officer, Choudhury would have the specific duty of ensuring that the council, its officers and its elected members maintain the highest standard of conduct in all that they do. He will oversee Legal, HR, Democratic Services, Elections, Audit and Corporate Support.
The council said: “Siraj brings strong legal, governance and project management expertise from his various roles in local government and the third sector. After starting out as a housing solicitor, he obtained a masters in spatial planning before joining Spelthorne Borough Council’s legal team in 2008.
“Regularly representing the local authority in court, Siraj conducted litigation and handled a range of regulatory prosecutions, planning inquiries and inquest matters. He also acted as legal advisor for the planning committee and licensing sub-committees.”
In 2015, Choudhury served as a Principal Solicitor before being appointed to the role of Deputy Group Head (Commissioning & Transformation) the following year. Working across this multi-disciplinary group, he gained a wider corporate exposure and led on Spelthorne’s rapid workplace transformation project.
He has also served as the Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and has held other non-executive positions.
Choudhury said: “I am delighted to be joining Crawley Borough Council. The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in significant challenges for the council and for local residents and businesses. I intend to promote a culture of good governance, transparency and accountability as the council drives forward the recovery, restores economic prosperity and combats climate change.”
Cllr Peter Lamb, Leader of Crawley Borough Council, said: “The Monitoring Officer is one of the three most important positions at the council, with responsibility for ensuring the council acts legally and with extensive powers to ensure that happens. The whole interview panel were impressed by Siraj’s detailed understanding of not only the role itself, but the town, the council, and the challenges we currently face. I am confident that he will prove a strong addition to the council’s management team.”