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Motivated, committed, enthusiastic...

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The LGC Future Leaders Network, in association with BT, aims to support local government’s up-and-coming talent. Each of our seven regional groups has now met. Here Future Leader Clare Kingston shares her reflections from the south-east meeting.

Early on 5 March this year I headed off to the council offices in Milton Keynes to attend the Future Leaders Network event. Although I did not know exactly what to expect, I was looking forward to the morning, confident that there would be the opportunity to meet informative peers from across the region and to hear from some interesting speakers. Reason enough to be cheerful I thought.

As it turned out I was right on both counts. The first speaker was Emma Maier, the editor of the LGC, who was speaking about the results of the 2011 leadership survey. For me, the key learning from this presentation was that the leadership skills needed for the future, in the opinions of the 103 chief executives and directors who took part are:

  • Communication skills, including managing the political interface
  • Understanding technology and the impact on communities
  • Commercial nous.

We also had presentations from two Chief Executives, David Hill of Milton Keynes Council, and Kim Ryley of Shropshire Council. They provided an insight into what it is like to be a chief executive in these challenging times and I found it inspiring to hear that the difficult changes they had both faced had not hindered success, because the changes were sensitively handled and well communicated.

For me, the standout element to the presentation from Adam Oliver from BT was the two apprentices he brought with him. To their surprise he asked them to take the floor and explain what the apprenticeship opportunity meant to them. Disappointingly, they did not talk about “giving 110 percent”, “rolling with the punches” and being “Lord Sugar’s dream partner” but happily and convincingly, they spoke about the wonderful opportunity that they had been presented with. A straw poll of the audience indicated that a number of councils offered an apprenticeship scheme and this really drove home the difference that such a scheme can make to peoples’ lives.

Our last speaker was Simon McDonald from Odgers Berndtson. A recruitment firm that helps the public sector recruit to senior positions. Simon emphasised the importance of keeping supporting statements for job applications relevant and concise. I took away the message that every word needs to earn its place.

Meeting my peers

The event was a mixture of formal presentations and informal networking opportunities over coffee. I spoke with several colleagues from a number of other local authorities, talking about their roles, sharing views on current issues and discussing the challenges facing our authorities and the different approaches being taken to address them.

On the drive back I reflected on how uplifting the session had been. In these difficult times of financial pressure and the abundance of negative media that we suffer from, I had had the pleasure of spending the morning with like-minded people. People who are motivated, committed and enthusiastic about the future of Local Government. There have already been some ideas about where the network might go from here and whatever form it takes in the future, I will be really proud and eager to play my part in it.

Clare Kingston, head of corporate strategy, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils


The Future Leaders Network comprises seven regional groups across the country. The south east network met in Milton Keynes. It heard from LGC editor Emma Maier, Milton Keynes chief David Hill, Shropshire CC chief Kim Ryley, recruitment expert Simon McDonald from Odgers Berndtson, and BT’s Adam Oliver. View presentation slides at: The south-east members are:

  • Mark Lumley, joint head of ICT, Epsom & Ewell BC and Elmbridge Borough Council
  • Simon Young, head of legal and democratic services, Epsom & Ewell BC
  • Patrick Ellis, head of customer services, West Sussex CC
  • Victor Nicholls, assistant chief executive, Bracknell Forest Council
  • Abby Thomas, head of community engagement and equalities, Bracknell Forest Council
  • Tim Slater, executive head (economy and communities), Havant BC
  • Gill Kneller, executive director, Havant BC
  • Ben Lockwood, finance manager, Ashford BC
  • Kevin Basford, head of environmental amenities and community safety, Arun DC
  • Louise Matthews, head of corporate strategy and communications, Swale BC
  • James Freeman, head of planning services, Swale BC
  • Lucy Butler, assistant director, Hampshire CC
  • Nick Hibberd, head of housing, Brighton and Hove City Council
  • Michael Bracey, assistant director, Milton Keynes Council
  • Clare Kingston, head of corporate strategy, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils
  • Natalie Anderson, head of corporate policy and partnerships, Elmbridge BC
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