ROD Barker, Vaga Probus Club's current speakers' secretary maintained his astute selection of highly effective speakers when Alistair Neill, the chief executive of Herefordshire Council, addressed 36 club members at their recent fortnightly business meeting.

Members received a brief rundown of Alistair's impressive background and career, covering first his initial roles in business and commerce with major companies, both in the UK and overseas before he moved onto the local government scene. He was also able to gain some political experience through an appointment in Northamptonshire in the Cabinet Office and subsequently as chief executive of Southampton City Council before his appointment in March 2013 which brought him to Herefordshire. An excellent communicator, Alistair clearly laid out in detail the challenges facing all councils and not just Herefordshire, as they cope with the considerable cuts in expenditure required by government while maintaining acceptable standards, notably in health and educational services. He impressed members with his plans to achieve our county's various objectives. Overall there was the feeling that in having Alistair Neill at the helm, Herefordshire people are in capable hands.

What also came across strongly to members was that Alistair is a people person who genuinely cares about others and who recognises the importance of the role required by himself and his valued team in delivering and implementing a viable and sustainable economic plan for the county's future.

It was a privilege for Paul Mason, Vaga's social secretary to introduce and thank Alistair for his fascinating and inspirational presentation.