Leadership Centre for Local Government created

Mar 17, 2004

The need for a specific body with a remit dealing initially with local government leadership had been the subject of much debate within the sector since 2002.

That was the year that SOLACE, encouraged by its then president Mike Pitt, put leadership of local government on the agenda for chief executives, and the former local government minister Nick Raynsford set up the Leadership Development Commission (LDC) to review the situation in leadership and leadership development in local government and to put together a national strategy.

In 2003 it recommended that a leadership centre be set up, establishing a steering group made up of the former ODPM, Office of Public Sector Reform, the Cabinet Office, the Treasury, the Audit Commission, the Local Government Association, the former IDeA and the former Employers Organisation (now both part of the Local Government Association), SOLACE, and the former SOCPO (now PPMA), to agree exactly what it should be asked to do.

Research among senior managers and politicians in local government showed a need for an organisation that could work at the very top of local government, with senior managerial and political teams – as it was strongly felt that only by working with the very top people can fundamental changes take effect.

It was also agreed there was a very real need to address the political dimension of leadership, an area that had previously been comparatively neglected. It was recognised that without the political element to local government it would be impossible to make a difference to people’s lives in keeping with what they wanted and needed – and what’s more, it was acknowledged that the politics itself was in fact what made leading local government such a tough business.

It was felt that an organisation that could also make sense of the complex market of leadership development provision was also required. The Leadership Centre opened in 2004 with the above remit, funded as part of the former ODPM’s Capacity Building Fund. It started working with its first authorities in the autumn of that year and has to date worked with over 150 authorities in England and their partnerships.


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