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CHIEFS' BODY FINDS CHAMPION IN LATHAM

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West Wiltshire DC chief executive Don Latham has been appointed director of the Society of Local Authority Chief Ex...
West Wiltshire DC chief executive Don Latham has been appointed director of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives.

Mr Latham (63) is due to take up the £30,000-a-year, part-time post in November working three days a week in the society's London office. He plans to take on other consultancy work from home.

Mr Latham said this week he would try to ensure 'that the deep commitment of my colleagues up and down the country to public service and democratic representative local government is shouted from the roof-tops'.

He joined West Wiltshire DC in 1989 and immediately became involved in unravelling a number of privatisation deals the council had entered into that were ruled to be unlawful by the district auditor. In the process, he was suspended but quickly reinstated with his reputation unsullied, if not enhanced.

Mr Latham has publicly stated his view that local government needs champions with a national profile who can appear on platforms like the BBC's 'Question Time' alongside private sector figures like the director general of the CBI.

'It's time for a fresh challenge,' he said this week. 'SOLACE members want to increase the profile of SOLACE and have a voice heard. The major part of my job will be to speak out on behalf of SOLACE.'

Mr Latham expects the society will soon have to reconsider the issue of enlarging its membership to include managers aspiring to top jobs as reorganisation looks certain to reduce the number chief executives in the country.

His fixed-term contract with West Wiltshire is due to end next year but as LGC went to press Mr Latham was negotiating an early termination.

He was previously assistant to the chief executive of Avon CC.

SOLACE decided to create the director post at its annual general meeting in April. It agreed then that the director should be its public voice, able to speak out more freely than individual chief executives can, and to develop its commercial activities.

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