Non-Executive Directors appointed for Publica Group
Four independent Non-Executive Directors have been appointed to sit on the boards of Publica Group – three new local authority owned companies providing services for district councils in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire.
A recent recruitment drive for these positions attracted around 100 applications and following interviews these have now been whittled down to the four successful applicants.
They are David Brooks (who will also be chairman), James Towner, Steve Anderson Dixon and Rosa Stewart, who will work together with Cllr Wendy Flynn appointed by Cheltenham Borough Council.
David Brooks, chairman of the board, has worked in the food industry for nearly 30 years including nine years with Brake Bros and 11 in the baking industry. Between 2002 and 2008 he was Chief Executive of Finsbury Food Group plc. He left this role in 2008 and decided to undertake a Non-Executive portfolio of work, which also included a four year spell as the Chief Executive of Sussex County Cricket Club, cricket being one of his passions. He said the role of NED for Publica Group looked interesting and it resonated with him as his first job was at Kent County Council as a trainee accountant.
He said: “This is an opportunity to be involved with something brand new and potentially pioneering which could make a difference to public services across the country. It sounds interesting, stimulating and fun and I have only ever done work which I felt would be those things. It is a great to join at the start of the journey and I look forward to working with the new board and experienced executive team.”
Steve Anderson Dixon has nearly 40 years’ experience in the media, with 28 years for Northcliffe Media where he was Divisional Managing Director responsible for print and digital titles across the South West & Wales including The Citizen and Gloucestershire Echo, and five years at Trinity Mirror where he was Chief Operating Officer and responsible for all the regional newspapers and websites. He now has a portfolio of Non-Executive roles including the British Veterinary Association. In addition Steve runs a property investment business with his wife.
Steve said: “The journey that the Publica Group is embarking on is an exciting one as well as a challenge. It represents an opportunity to make a positive difference to people’s lives and a means to deliver improved services for our residents and communities.”
James Towner works for Capita as a Strategic Engagement Director. He has spent more than 20 years working in customer service transformation for organisations including Thames Water and HSBC. He was Chief Operating Officer for the Research Council’s shared service centre, when the seven UK Research Councils created a new approach to sharing services.
James said: “I was attracted to Publica because of the excitement of something new and also the vision and aspiration of the councils to deliver first class services to their communities when at the same time delivering even better value.”
Rosa Stewart has 8 years’ experience in energy in public and private sectors. She is a qualified solicitor by professional background and has advised energy and infrastructure project developers at the leading global firm Clifford Chance. Rosa has also led a power sector reform programme in Nigeria. Currently she works in the Government's industrial strategy unit. She is interested in helping develop new projects and initiatives, particularly to do with the environment and energy.
Rosa said: “This is a really interesting programme as it’s all about being innovative in the public service. I look forward to being part of the team helping make a tangible difference locally."
Cllr Wendy Flynn has been on Cheltenham Borough Council for 15 years, including a year as mayor.
Wendy said: “I’ve been involved for a time with the 2020 Partnership and it’s exciting to be part of it. As an elected councillor on the board I can keep a focus on the end user being residents.”
Non-Executive Directors are members of the board of directors. They are independent and provide external advice to the board and are usually specialists in their field. They do have the same legal duties, responsibilities and potential liabilities as other directors on the board.
Cllr Patrick Molyneux, chairman of the Joint Committee, which is overseeing the development of Publica Group, said: “The interviewing panel was really impressed by the strong field of candidates and believes the four independents we have appointed have a strength and breadth of expertise that the whole organisation will be able to utilise.
“Through working in this new way and forming companies it is projected to save us £41 million over 10 years – with annual savings of £5.6 million forecast from 2020. We believe that establishing local authority companies is having the effect of creating a new market for the public sector which will over time drive up standards and efficiencies and drive down costs whilst retaining democratic accountability for each council.”