THE new chief executive of Worcestershire County Council says she is "looking forward to the challenges" of running the authority as she gets her feet under the table.

Clare Marchant, 41, has taken up the role of chief executive at the council after Trish Haines stepped down. She has previously been assistant chief executive at the authority and before that was a group programme director with the NHS.

She takes over at the county council during one of the biggest upheavals in its history, with about £100 million being cut by 2018 and 1,500 jobs due to be slashed and 85 per cent of services being handed to new providers. Despite the changes, Mrs Marchant will start on a lucrative £151,000 salary - £26,000 below that of Mrs Haines- but if she stays until 2017 it will reach £171,000, just £5,000 less.

Leading up to taking on the new role, Mrs Marchant has been preparing for her new role by working closely with the outgoing Mrs Haines, meeting partner organisations and people within Worcestershire and neighbouring counties.

She joined the county council in 2010 to head up the council's change programme, Better Outcomes Lean Delivery (BOLD), which, at the time, was trying to shed £60 million over a four-year period.

She is a graduate of the University of Hull and after nearly four years at bread-maker Hovis as a production manager, she joined accountants Deloitte in 1997 and spent six years advising both private and public sector bodies on how to modernise. Her clients also included Burberry.

During her time in the NHS she was responsible for leading the "choose and book" scheme and picture archiving in hospitals, digitising scans which is now used in 100 per cent of hospitals.

At the end of her first day in the job last week, Mrs Marchant said: "It is an honour and a privilege to serve in this role and I look forward to serving local people, businesses and communities.

"I intend to work alongside [council leader, Conservative councillor] Adrian Hardman and all councillors and staff to continue to find ways to engage with the people and businesses of Worcestershire, to listen to them to ensure we shape services that ensure a prosperous Worcestershire."