The chief executives of Doncaster MBC and Luton BC are to go head-to-head in an election to become the next president of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives & Senior Managers.
The role, which has been held by Birmingham City Council’s chief executive Mark Rogers for the last two years, will be contested by Doncaster’s Jo Miller and Luton’s Trevor Holden.
Ms Miller is currently Solace’s deputy speaker on elections and democratic renewal, while Mr Holden is an advisor to the organisation.
Online voting for Solace’s members will begin on Wednesday. Voting closes on 5 October. The winner will be announced at Solace’s annual general meeting on 12 October.
Below are extracts from Ms Miller’s and Mr Holden’s statements submitted as part of their applications to become Solace president.
The case for Ms Miller:
Ms Miller said it was “important that Solace isn’t seen as a clique” and added she would adopt a “collaborative, distributive leadership style…to ensure that every geographical area is heard and every member can contribute”.
She said Solace was “an important voice in the debate about the future shape of public services in this country and we should ensure that it is heard”.
Solace should “shape future leaders”, said Ms Miller while she thought more could be done to learn from “colleagues across devolved administrations to shape future public services fit for people”.
Ms Miller said she wanted to build on Mr Rogers’ “excellent work and form a strong partnership” with the chair of Solace so that the organisation becomes the “go to place” for people seeking “thoughtful policy influence” and a “leadership offer par excellence”.
Solace should become “the membership organisation that one must be a member of, with links to other professional associations that are second to none”.
Ms Miller said: “As senior managers we are at the heart of effective place leadership. We have a story to tell, an offer to make, and a generation to inspire.”
The case for Mr Holden:
Mr Holden billed himself as “not an establishment figure” and someone who “likes to challenge the status quo and to support innovation”.
While Mr Rogers would be “a tough act to follow”, Mr Holden said his ambition was to make Solace an organisation made up of “the most highly regarded policy developers and innovators, based on a track record of delivering transformation”.
Solace needs to do more to make it “relevant” to members, said Mr Holden who is proposing Solace could enable collaboration between local authorities on procurement and with the supply chain to deliver “faster innovation, common systems and cheaper solutions”.
He said: ”For so much that we do, we are the market, but we don’t drive it. I see a new role for Solace in this, in seeking to drive innovation in services for the citizen at less cost. I believe that by leading collaboration between local government, central government, partners and our supply chain, we can make a demonstrable difference through bold innovation.”
Mr Holden said more should also be done to seek the views of those on Solace’s graduate and SpringBoard programmes.
Mr Holden said Solace’s members should be “providing solutions to society’s challenges and be the ‘go to’ partner for other policy makers”. He wanted Solace to work closer with the Local Government Association, and other professional bodies, warning that Solace “must not” be viewed as the trade union of senior officers and managers.