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Rising star

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Council of past 20 years



Sally Clark

Wirral MBC

Sally Clark has recently been promoted to assistant head of communications but joined Wirral when it was undergoing major internal redesign. Her role was to help the council engage with employees to help communicate the challenges, the necessary redundancies and reshaping of services. She very quickly embedded herself across the organisation and her work on shaping how those messages were delivered had a huge impact on the final outcome and how the council was perceived. Ms Clark has been key to driving and maintaining pace in changing the way the council engages with staff, and has helped to set up new organisations that enabled Wirral to become a commissioning council.


Dominic Coleman

Oldham MBC

Oldham seeks to lead an inclusive economy and has ambitious plans to become a ‘horticultural city’. Principal policy manager Dominic Coleman has demonstrated his abilities to lead development of the borough’s food economy strategy with vision, passion, ambition and tenacity. His innovations include a new partnership that resulted in a network of community fridges and £50,000 coming into the borough. Chief executive Carolyn Wilkins says: “I’m proud we’re nominating Dominic. What stands out about him is his relentless focus on collaboration and innovation. He blends his deep commitment to the issue with strategy and hard-edged influencing and negotiation skills to get the best possible outcomes.”


Denise Dixon

Croydon LBC

Denise Dixon joined Croydon in June 2016 as a public health principal in her second local government job, and has made an impact on senior leaders and peers alike with her work in this field. She is passionate about improving outcomes for Croydon residents and her experience outside the sector – including stints in Kenya and Guyana working in public health education and operational support – has informed her approach here. Ms Dixon took the initiative to set up the children’s health and wellbeing group, which looked at where synergies existed, opportunities for collaboration and sharing resources, and chairs the teenage pregnancy task and finish group.


Andy Knight

Barking & Dagenham LBC

Andy Knight is head of healthy lifestyles commissioning. He has transformed Barking & Dagenham’s leisure service and driven up service standards and ambition and is now commissioner of leisure from a not-for-profit provider. Maureen Worby, cabinet member for social care and health integration, says: “For a borough with our health inequalities, getting a good, exciting leisure offer in place was a major priority. We are all very proud of the quality of the service we now provide to residents, and Andy Knight is one of the key people we have to thank for it.” Under his stewardship usage of leisure centres has jumped from 800,000 a year to 1.5 million.


Debbie Mercer

Barnsley MBC

Debbie Mercer is head of service for children and family social care and has led delivery of the ‘Barnsley Neglect Matters’ strategy to reduce the incidence of childhood neglect by helping agencies working with children to know how to identify and respond to the warning signs in a timely manner, so that help can be provided quickly. She has also delivered a stable permanent workforce, with no temporary agency social workers in place. Last year, Ms Mercer was selected as one of the future generation of leaders of children’s services across England, after securing a place on the national practice leader development programme.


Nicola Pearce

Broxbourne BC

Community safety manager Nicola Pearce works closely with the Broxbourne Community Safety Partnership, and is trusted with very sensitive intelligence, for example on organised crime and gangs. She participates in operational policing group meetings where and works with the safer neighbourhood team on joint action to keep crime and anti-social behaviour down in an area where neither is high by national standards but above levels elsewhere in Hertfordshire. Ms Pearce purchased a long-lens camera for the police to tackle off-road motorbikes where they were struggling to gather evidence and made the business case for permanent speed cameras on a road prone to unauthorised racing.


Charlotte Pugh

Vale of Glamorgan Council

Senior planner Charlotte Pugh joined Vale of Glamorgan initially on a student placement and was appointed permanently when she finished her studies. Her role is to maximise developer contributions and to use these appropriately, balancing council policy and the wishes of individual councillors, community groups and town and community councils. At a time of reducing budgets, and increasing competition for grants, the use of Section 106 planning gain funds has permitted significant investment in facilities that would otherwise have been impossible. In March 2017, the council had a Section 106 holding account worth £11m, the vast majority of which was committed funding.



Mike Jackson, chief executive, North Somerset Council

John Metcalfe, chief executive, Isle of Wight Council

Jane Portman, managing director, Bournemouth BC

Becky Shaw, chief executive, East Sussex CC

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