After an eventful 12 years in which the offices burned down, Westminster funding has been progressively cut and a unique method of administrating local government has been pioneered, Lynn Aisbett is retiring as Melton Council chief executive.
It has not been without its considerable challenges but Mrs Aisbett says she will look back with fondness on her achievements when she leaves her post at the end of July.
One of them was to oversee the almost immediate recovery of services shortly after the council offices in Nottingham Road catastrophically burned down in 2008.
Mrs Aisbett was on her way to a meeting at Rutland Council when she got a call to say there had been a fire.
She recalled: “As I drove back to Melton I kept having to pull over to take calls.
“When I was five miles from the town an officer rang and said ‘be prepared, it’s bad’.
“I could then see a plume of dark smoke.”
Staff had prepared for the unlikely event which occurred and they decamped to a base on the outskirts of Nottingham.
Services were quickly up and running and councillors went out into their wards to let residents know what was happening.
Fast forward three years and the council had set up home at their new base off Burton Street in a plush, purpose-built office development.
Everyone works in an open-plan ‘hot-desking’ environment and no members of staff have their own offices, including Mrs Aisbett.
“There are only two offices here - one for the leader and one for the Mayor - but the rest of us work alongside each other and that does help us to work as a team,” she said.
One of her proudest successes has been overseeing a balanced budget in each of her years in office despite hefty cuts in government funding.
She will also be remembered for scrapping the traditional departmental set-up and forming instead teams of people who are able to work together to deal with issues such as social care, family support, homelessness and business development.
Helping disadvantaged families has been a focus for her, she said. “We built two children’s centres in the town and refurbished a community centre to make a third, we managed them for eight years and they have made a real difference.
“I still remember being told by one officer that it was a joy to attend sessions at one particular centre because the children could recite the words from The Very Hungry Caterpillar and they were from a family in which books and reading had not been a big part of their lives.”
The council is recruiting for her successor and she believes the main challenges for that person will be to help facilitate the development growth the borough needs through the Local Plan and to continue to provide essential services within the funding restrictions the authority faces.
Mrs Aisbett, a mother of two who is married to lawyer Alan, turns 60 in July and plans to spend her early retirement years studying for a Masters Degree in Medieval history, one of her passions away from work.
She added: “I will miss the relationships I have developed with people at the council and working with the staff. It has been a very enjoyable 12 years at the council.”
Council leader, Councillor Pam Posnett, said: “Lynn has been with us for 12 years and has seen many changes.
“The climax would be the fire in 2008 which saw us start on our reorganisation of the council and how we work.
“Lynn has led us through troubled times and good. She is leaving at an exciting time for Melton, where we will see some of the biggest changes we have had in years, including the Local Plan and the distributer road.
“As Members we are sad to see her go but understand her wish to start a new chapter in her life. We wish her well for the future.”