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“I think I’ve found the next generation of council chiefs”

“I think I’ve found the next generation of council chiefs”

Michael Greene, Chief Executive at Scarborough Borough Council

I read with interest the recent LGC article “where is the next generation of council chiefs?”

I think I’ve found them. I recently had the privilege to meet 180 new graduates coming in to our sector through the Local Government Association’s National Graduate Development programme.  

I was really pleased to be asked to deliver a session on leadership in local government and my journey to being the Chief Executive of Scarborough Borough Council. 

I found the session hugely rewarding and it was exciting to see so much passion, energy and optimism joining our sector to contribute to the future.  That said it did make me feel a little old!

One of the things I was asked about is my views on the future of local government and what will be needed from leaders in the future. 

It made me think about the sector, my own personal experiences and also the future ahead for me. 

As a chief executive, at 37, I know I have many laps to run around the pitch before I hang-up my boots.  

I hope to have another 30 years in the sector I love and care about.  I feel a responsibility to shape its future and encourage our future leaders to do the same. 

I reflected on the past couple of years and the unbelievable challenges we have been facing as a sector, and here in Scarborough.

They’ve included budget savings and transformation, health reforms, elections, devolution, local government reform and delivering a huge regeneration agenda.

All of that has been set against the backdrop of the biggest challenge our communities have faced since the Second World War: COVID-19 and the recovery needed as a result of it.   

I often reflect on the fact that my four year old son and 1 year old daughter along with future generations will learn about how we pulled together as a nation during this difficult period, as people did during the war years.

I truly believe the remarkable and inspiring way in which local government has risen to the challenge will be remembered favourably as our place in history.  We have supported the vulnerable, been there when our communities needed us the most and supported the national COVID-19 response.

Despite all the challenges we face, the pride I have for all of our incredible teams for all the work they have done has given me a spring in my step about the future.  

So what will local government be like in the future or, more importantly, what does it need to be to support our communities to flourish?

I think the excellent ‘local by default’ work by the APSE Local Government Commission has captured it perfectly for me.

It placed a spotlight on some brilliant examples of innovation and service delivery which is changing lives.  Critically, it offered up a series of sensible, visionary proposals to re-invigorate local government and help it release the massive unrealised potential which exists. 

I firmly support the view of the Commission that the public policy challenges we face cannot be resolved in a top-down way through Westminster or the devolved governments.  If we are to succeed, councils must be entrusted with the powers and resources to do what we do best. 

The argument for a new deal enshrined in a new constitutional settlement is a compelling one and one which will both protect and turbo-charge delivery at a local level.  

Local government has proven during the pandemic that we can deliver at pace and for the benefit of our communities. 

If we are truly to level up we must unlock this potential further.



Promoting excellence in public services

APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) is a not for profit unincorporated association working with over 300 councils throughout the UK. Promoting excellence in public services, APSE is the foremost specialist in local authority frontline services, hosting a network for frontline service providers in areas such as waste and refuse collection, parks and environmental services, cemeteries and crematorium, environmental health, leisure, school meals, cleaning, housing and building maintenance.






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