Rother welcomes new director of resources

A BUSY first week with a cabinet meeting on his first afternoon has greeted Rother council's new director of resources.

But Malcolm Johnston says he is looking forward to the challenges his new post presents and has been delighted by the friendly welcome extended by Rother staff and members.

Mr Johnston joins Rother following predecessor Joy Hollister's move to Brighton and Hove City Council.

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He comes to Rother after 17 years with Ashford Borough Council, the last three as head of communications and policy.

He was born in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. He lived in various parts of Northern Ireland during his early years, the exception being three years on the island of Bougainville in Papua, New Guinea when his father had a job there with the Methodist Church.

After secondary school, he went to the University of Ulster at Jordanstown, where he qualified as an environmental health officer in 1985.

He spent more than 10 years as an environmental health officer, working first with Thanet District Council and then with Ashford Borough.

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He says: "Over this time I managed to collect another couple of degrees, an Msc in Environmental Health from Thames Polytechnic (now the University of Greenwich) and an MBA from the University of Kent in Canterbury.

"Then I spent the next eight years or so working in a variety of roles in contract management, environmental services and community safety.

"The latter part of my career, before joining Rother, has been spent working with Ashford's chief executive (who hails from Bexhill) in a corporate role involving communications and policy."

Referring to his new role and to Rother as a local authority: "I think it has challenges but I think it is well-placed to meet those challenges.

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"But like any local authority now, it gets more and more challenging as the years go on.

"Rother is an interesting district because it has the towns of Bexhill, Battle and Rye and it also has a huge rural area.

"That leads to challenges in itself because there is always the rural-v-urban debate."

Asked what tomorrow holds for authority's like Rother, he said: "I think the future of small districts depends on what the Government decides. I think in future we need to look outside our own boundaries from time to time to look at neighbouring authorities and how best we can use our limited resources in combination with theirs.

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"I think my first impression of the area and of the council have been that the staff have been incredibly friendly and welcoming. The members have been the same.

"I applied for the job because I wanted it. I am not in the habit of of applying for jobs for the sake of it.

"I am delighted to get it and delighted to be here."

His partner is chief executive of a Primary Care Trust in Kent. They live between Ashford and Canterbury and enjoy travel.

"My main sport is golf (I am not sure you can really have another sport when you play golf!) and I was fortunate to serve as Captain of my local golf club in 2004.

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"My greatest likes are holidays, food, wine, our garden and playing golf. My greatest dislike is playing golf badly...

"My greatest ambitions are to win another golf trophy and to make time to play my guitar again.

"My greatest professional achievement to date in life has been my appointment as director of resources at Rother."

Malcolm Johnston, a bass-baritone, was a member of the Margate Operatic Society in the late Eighties and appeared at the Winter Gardens in their summer variety show.