‘Twelve happy and interesting years’: Mike O’Donnell to leave Town Hall

IT might not mean much to the average punter on the street – the ones who don’t read niche blogs about north London council politics for example – but a big change for the inner workings of Camden Council is announced this afternoon with its finance director Mike O’Donnell telling colleagues and councillors that he will be leaving the Town Hall at the end of the year. He’s been on loan to Birmingham for most of the year, part-time, and with that arrangement coming to an end he’s decided to “move on to do other things”. Leaving after 12 years in Camden is end of an era stuff…

Here’s is his message to councillors:

I am writing to let you know that, after much thought, I have decided to step down from my role as Executive Director Corporate Services at Camden. I have agreed with Mike Cooke that this will take effect on 31 December. Jon Rowney will therefore cover the Executive Director role from 1 January. 

As many of you will know, I have spent nearly 9 months covering the Chief Finance Officer role in Birmingham and, as that comes to an end, it feels like a good point to think about what I wish to do over the next few years. Although I have spent over 12 happy and interesting years at Camden, it does feel like an opportune time to move on to do other things rather than returning to my substantive role.   

My ability to undertake the Birmingham role was very much based on the fact that I have such a great team in Camden as well as the understanding and support from Camden Councillors. I am very grateful for the support that all have provided to enable me to undertake the slightly mad task of covering both the Birmingham and Camden s151 posts although, in the case of Camden, much of the strain has been taken by others stepping up. 

My plan is to develop a “portfolio” of different roles and activities. Mike Cooke has indicated that this could include some ongoing work for Camden, but this would sit alongside other engagements including possible interim assignments, non-exec roles, consultancy, etc. I am very pleased that my plans can include some ongoing work on Camden projects and look forward to working with some of you on these in the future. 

Wherever I end up working, I will continue to draw on my experiences at Camden. I will always be a strong advocate for Camden’s ambition and values and for the colleagues, both officers and members, with whom I have worked over the years. 

Best wishes 


Mike O’Donnell 
Executive Director Corporate Services 
London Borough of Camden 

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