An interim managing director has been appointed on a permanent basis.

Sajida Bijle has temporarily led Hertsmere Borough Council since chief executive Donald Graham's departure last July.

With more than 30 years experience with the council, Conservative leader Cllr Morris Bright said he was "delighted" to confirm Ms Bilje's permanent appointment at a full council meeting held at the civic centre in Borehamwood on Wednesday night.

Previously, she has held the roles of chief financial officer and corporate director, and she is company secretary at council-owned Elstree Studios.

Ms Bijle, who is qualified as a chartered accountant, certified accountant and has a BA degree in law, said: "I consider it an immense personal privilege to have this opportunity. I look forward to driving through some ambitious plans for the authority over the coming months and years, but retaining our core vision of supporting our communities, planning for the future and being an enterprising council.

"We have tremendous staff here who work very hard to provide an excellent service to our local communities so am confident that we can continue to make great progress. I look forward to leading them and working with our elected members, stakeholders and partners."

Borehamwood Times:

Ms Bijle was permanently appointed at a full council meeting at the civic centre in Borehamwood, pictured

Party leaders in Hertsmere have praised Ms Bijle's appointment.

Council leader Cllr Bright said: "I have worked closely with Sajida over many years and have always been impressed by her diligence, integrity and commitment to putting our residents at the heart of everything that we do."

Labour leader Cllr Jeremy Newmark has described Ms Bilje's appointment as "incredibly significant at what is a critical time".

He added: "I particularly welcome the appointment of Hertsmere's first ever woman and member of the black, Asian and minority ethnic community to the role of permanent head of paid service."

Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Andrew Melville added: "This is a positive step for the council and I was delighted to lend my support and agreement. I wish Sajida well in this post."

Last summer, Hertsmere's Executive committee voted to delete the role of council chief executive, held by Donald Graham, in favour of a "more cost efficient model" of management.

Mr Graham was the the highest paid chief executive in Hertfordshire, earning £154,000 a year - further costs, including pension, actually brought Mr Graham’s total pay packet per year to £220,000 according to Cllr Bright.