A former British 400 metre sprinter who won a bronze medal at the European Championships in Russia 32 years ago will run Wiltshire Council from next year.

Andrew Kerr, 50, who is currently chief executive of North Tyneside Council, was picked from a shortlist of six.

His selection was backed by Wiltshire Council’s elected members at County Hall on Tuesday and he is due to start in February, taking over the reins from Dr Keith Robinson. He will earn around £189,000 a year.

Falkirk-born Mr Kerr said he was looking forward to visiting Wiltshire over the next few months to meet staff at County Hall and residents.

“It’s a great opportunity for me. I will miss the people in North Tyneside as they are very friendly, but I am looking forward to moving to Wiltshire.

“I will start house-hunting in the new year. I’ll rent initially as my youngest child will finish her year at school before the family move.”

Mr Kerr has been married to his Icelandic wife Edda, 49, for 17 years. They met at a conference in Bordeaux, France.

Together they have three children, Cameron, 24, who works for Asda; Caroline, 21, who is studying for a marketing degree at Edinburgh University and eight-year-old Rebecca, who is in Year 4 at a primary school in Whitley Bay.

Mr Kerr, who took up athletics as a boy, competed at an international level until his mid 20s when he started managing an athletics stadium in Falkirk. He worked his way up through leisure services before moving to Cardiff, which was then bidding for the 1992 Commonwealth Games.

By 1996 he was working in Caerphilly as head of lifelong learning and leisure and then joined the Audit Commission as head of best value in Wales, before joining Birmingham City Council as director of leisure and culture. He became chief executive in North Tyneside in 2005.

Talking about his vision for Wiltshire, he said: “We need to make sure we get local, honest decision-making right and make it relevant to local people.

“All of local government is going to be in a much tougher financial situation.”

Ensuring all leisure centres across the county were run in a harmonised way, as well as other council services, such as bin collections, is one of his aims as chief executive.

“We need to make sure we take a careful, measured look at long-term solutions,” he added.