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Devolution is the deciding factor

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To be near the top of this year’s LGC100, you either need to be winning devolution, offering devolution or preventing devolution. Devolution is the only game in town.

The relative significance of the two key Whitehall departments taking devolution decisions – the Treasury and the Department for Communities & Local Government – preoccupied this year’s judges. Under our rules, the chancellor and prime minister are barred from the LGC100, freeing up the top slot to the DCLG.

Nick golding new website

Nick golding new website

Nick Golding

However, it is notable that the Treasury had two figures high up the top 10. Only six months after the general election, the judges were uncertain where all power lies in the government. Many junior ministers are still relatively unknown; many wrangles for power are yet to happen.

On the local government side, it is easier to see where power sits: if you’re in the Powerhouse, you’re in our power list. Greater Manchester, which has three figures in the top 11, remained central in the judges’ thoughts.

However, the appointment of interim city mayor Tony Lloyd (Lab) disrupted the power axis between Manchester City Council’s chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein and leader Sir Richard Leese, (Lab) the two men who jointly claimed last year’s top slot.

Such has been the influence of the Northern Powerhouse that only one person from a southern council makes the top 20. It probably would have been two had Andrew Kerr, the chief executive spearheading Cornwall Council’s devolution, not changed jobs. Nevertheless, it would be entirely understandable should a southerner wave this year’s LGC100 in the face of a minister, demanding the same devolution being offered to their northern counterparts.

The number of women in the top 10 fell from four to one, although three of the women in the highest places last year have changed jobs. Nevertheless the lack of female and ethnic minority candidates at the top of the list is a concern.

Finally, we should remember this list is subjective. Had we chosen different judges on a different day the result may not have been the same. We hope that the LGC100 will spur debate about where power lies and – in particular – where it should lie.

Nick Golding, LGC editor



  • Christine Gilbert, former chief executive, Brent LBC
  • Nick Golding, editor, LGC
  • Andy Mahon, partner, BDO
  • Jacqui McKinlay, executive director, Centre for Public Scrutiny
  • Mike Owen, chief executive, Bury MBC
  • Paul Shevlin, chief executive, Craven DC, and chair, District Councils Network
  • Joe Simpson, director, Leadership Centre
  • Martin Tucker, chief executive, GatenbySanderson

The LCG100 identifies the most influential people whose work will shape local government in 2016. Our list includes officers, members, national politicians, civil servants and thinkers.

To compile the final list, which is supported by BDO and GatenbySanderson, LGC appointed a panel of judges with vast experience across the sector. LGC readers were asked to nominate the people in and around local government who they thought would exert the most influence over the sector in the next 12 months. Everyone was eligible for inclusion, with the exception of the prime minister, the chancellor, the leader of the Opposition and our judges.

Once the nominations from readers had been gathered, LGC invited our panel to select the final 100 most influential people at a judging session at LGC’s offices in London.

The judges assessed the candidates on the strength of their leadership, the breadth and depth of their influence, and the extent to which there was evidence the individual’s work was leading to change elsewhere. Judges were asked to avoid participating in discussions about candidates with whom they had a personal connection. The judges ranked the entire list via a lively debate process.


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