Biography

bl-icecream

Having grown up and gone to school in Harrow, and lived most of my life in the borough, I’m very much a local boy born and bred; I now live with my wonderful little boy, Lysander, on Harrow on the Hill.

Following the local elections of May 22nd 2014, I now have the privilege and honour to represent my home ward of Harrow on the Hill as one of its 3 councillors.

Studies

I graduated with a BA in Economics from the University of York, where I also got my MA in political philosophy, on the Idea of Toleration. Subsequently, I’ve done post-graduate research and have taught political philosophy, first at the University of Hull (Dept. of Politics), then at the University of Arizona (Dept. of Philosophy).

Since 1989, I’ve benefited from participating in several academic summer seminars on liberty and society organised by the Institute for Humane Studies, the Institute for Economic Studies-Europe, the Cato Institute, the Critical Review Foundation, the Foundation for Economic Education and the Ludwig von Mises Institute.


Career

In October 2014 I joined a national charity as their new Local Government Officer.

Previously, I worked in local government as a political adviser: from August 2000 to early 2003 in Harrow’s Conservative Group office before moving to become the Political Adviser to London’s Conservative Borough Leaders at London Councils (former the Association of London Government), serving in this role until July 2014, when I departed London Councils for new opportunities.

My career to date has also included working as a welfare policy researcher at the Institute of Economic Affairs’ Health & Welfare Unit (now Civitas) and as an intern at the Cato Institute in Washington DC. I’ve also worked in the computer industry.

From mid-September 2013 to May 2014, I served as Deputy Leader of Harrow Council, with Portfolio Holder responsibilities for Adults & Housing services.  Following the local elections in May 2014,  I am, once again, Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

Political Achievements

In May 2006, I was elected as a Conservative councillor for Harrow’s Belmont ward as the Conservatives won back control of the council after 12 years in opposition.

From 2008 to 2010, I held the Adults & Housing Portfolio, during which time the Adults’ department gained 3-stars – the department’s highest ever rating – from the Care Quality Commission, the social care inspectorate. At the same time, my hard-working officers identified and delivered some £4million of savings and other efficiency gains.

On my watch, Harrow became recognised as a national leader in personalisation – of giving users and carers more choice and greater control over their care arrangements. (I described some of this work on personalisation in a paper given at the Summer University of the New Economics, in Aix-en-Provence, August 2009.  Subsequently, I have continued to work on this material, and have made further presentations to academic conferences and university groups in London, Cambridge, Oxford and a much-revised paper on personalisation and Harrow’s experience at a panel on patient empowerment at Madrid 2012, the 22nd World Congress of Political Science, organised by the International Political Science Association.)

Nor was Housing exempted from change under my tenure, drawing up a comprehensive plan to improve services and generate more income; Labour is now implementing this plan.

Whilst I was  re-elected as a Belmont ward councillor in May 2010, unfortunately, the Conservatives lost control of the council to Labour.  This spring, I was re-elected (yet again unopposed) as the Deputy Leader of Harrow’s Conservative Group (first elected in spring 2010) and continue to work closely with our Group Leader, Cllr. Susan Hall in holding the Labour to account.

In April/May 2013, the Labour Group split, with the Conservatives supporting the Independent Labour Group in an effort to bring stability to the Council, “to steady the ship” and so ensure that front-line services were properly protected following years of Labour cuts.  As concerns mounted over continuing cuts to street cleaning and other basic services – over the summer, the situation proved untenable; and a minority Conservative administration was formed following the election (16/09/13) of Cllr. Susan Hall as Harrow’s first female Council Leader.

I was absolutely thrilled to be appointed to serve in Susan’s cabinet as the Deputy Leader of the Council, with special responsibility for adult care and housing services – my previous portfolio and one that I know well.

At the local elections in May 2014, Labour clawed their way back to power with the same number of seats as they’d had in 2010, though Harrow’s Conservatives still amassed the largest share of the vote.

I also switched wards, moving from the safe Conservative seat of Belmont in Harrow East to contest the marginal seat of Harrow on the Hill in Harrow West.  We improved our showing on the Hill, with a significant swing towards us over both 2010 local elections and the 2013 by-election.  (The by-election saw our worst showing as Conservatives in the 35 years of the ward’s existence.)  in May 2014, we amassed the largest share of the vote (44% to Labour’s 41%) and increased our Hill councillors from 1 to 2.  However, whilst Mrs. June Baxter and I both got in, unfortunately, we lost Simon Williams as a councillor – a great loss to both the Conservative Group but also to Harrow Council.

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