The current assistant chief executive at Cornwall Council, Paul Masters, has been formally confirmed as the authority’s new temporary head honcho on a £158,000 to £175,000 salary.

With 32 years experience of local government in Cornwall, Mr Masters was recommended by Member Selection and Appointment of Chief Officers Panel and endorsed at yesterday's meeting of the full council.

Panel chairman Jeremy Rowe was "delighted" that members supported the recommendation.

"Paul has a strong background in public service and has Cornwall running through his veins” he said. “We were all highly impressed with his approach and knowledge of the issues facing Cornwall and we are delighted to be in a position to appoint him. We wish him every success."

Council leader Jim Currie said: "The next six months will be a very challenging time for the authority, with the election of a new council which will have to deal with the impact of further cuts in government funding.

"Paul’s long experience in local government in Cornwall and his ability to work with all kinds of groups and individuals and manage difficult situations calmly and sensitively makes him the ideal person for the job."

Paul, aged 50, joined the former North Cornwall District Council as a trainee environmental health officer in September 1981.

At the time Paul had just completed a one year art foundation course at the Plymouth College of Art and Design, after studying A Levels at Launceston College - and was considering whether to accept an offer to study for a degree in graphic design or to train as an RAF pilot at Biggin Hill.

Yet the 19-year-old turned down both offers, choosing instead to follow a career in local government – an example which was later followed by his father who became a refuse driver for North Cornwall District Council.

After spending the next three years working for the district council at the same time as studying part time for a degree in environmental health at a college in Birmingham, Paul emerged as a fully qualified environmental health officer in 1984.

He then spent the next few years working in various sections of the service, including food safety, noise pollution, health and safety and housing, until becoming a "best value officer" within the chief executive’s department in 2000.

Eight years later, after a period which saw North Cornwall District Council win a number of awards for its customer service and services, Paul was head hunted by Cornwall County Council chief executive Sheila Healy to join her team on a part time basis.

At the same time as working with the former county council, Paul was also one of the four person team leading North Cornwall District Council during the transition to the new unitary authority. He was appointed as head of policy for the new Council in 2008, becoming the assistant chief executive in 2009.

Paul will take up his new role on the departure of Kevin Lavery and said he felt "honoured" by the council’s decision to appoint him to such an important job.

"I have been genuinely humbled by the many messages of good will I have received from people across Cornwall over the past few days,” he said.

“I am extremely proud of the fact that I have spent my whole career working in local government in Cornwall and will seek to do the very best I can for the council and for Cornwall."

The appointment will be for a minimum of six months, pending the outcome of the unitary council elections in May and a decision by the new council regarding the nature of and process for a longer term appointment. 

Paul is married with two children, a daughter who is still at school and a son who currently works for a local council. They all live in Mid Cornwall.