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Top Appointments bring Fresh Experience to the Board at SEEDA

25 November 2008

Pat McFadden, Minister of State for Employment Relations and Postal Affairs, today announced four new appointments to the Board of SEEDA.

Zenna Atkins and Les Dawson, Business representatives, and Councillors Keith Mitchell and Jeremy Birch, Local Authority representatives will all take up their three-year appointments on 14 December 2008 until 13 December 2011.

Pat McFadden said: "I am delighted to be appointing Zenna Atkins, Leslie Dawson, Cllr Keith Mitchell and Cllr Jeremy Birch to the RDA Board for the South East England Development Agency. They will bring valuable experience and knowledge to the work of the RDA. Their membership to the board will be important in the contribution they can make in supporting the national and regional economies through this exceptional economic period."

SEEDA Chairman Jim Brathwaite said: "I am delighted to welcome Zenna, Les, Keith and Jeremy to the SEEDA Board. The competition was extremely tough this year, any of those interviewed would have made excellent Board members, it’s a pity we can’t have everyone from the final selection. The SEEDA Board will be strengthened by this new group of Directors and I am looking forward to working with them all.

"I would also like thank the retiring Board members for their excellent contribution over their term. Poul Christensen, John Peel, Rob Anderson and Keith House have all contributed greatly and helped SEEDA and the region to prosper.

"The new Board colleagues will join a Board very much focused on making sure the South East leads the country out of this downturn as quickly as possible. Their personal experience and their contacts with Business, Local Authorities and other partners will be needed right from day one."

A brief summary of the appointees career and experience

Zenna Atkins is an acclaimed Social Entrepreneur. She is an executive consultant for Social Solutions, a social sector consultancy company, dedicated to building capacity and maximising opportunities for the third sector, specialising in social Enterprise development and sustainability. She is Chairman of Ofsted, the children and learners inspection and regulation body, and the Group Chairman of Places for People, a national property development, regeneration and management company dedicated to creating neighbourhoods of choice for all, managing 59 thousand properties, building 1700 new homes a year. She is the Non Executive Director on the Board of the Royal Navy Board and Audit Committee chair. She is also a trustee of the Olympic Legacy Trust and voluntary Chair and trustee of a number of charities including, Dreamwall and 21st Century Legacy trust. She has a national reputation, is a sought after conference speaker and is an advisor on governmental panels and committees, exploring a range of issues including health, social engagement and social entrepreneurship. Zenna is a regular columnist for the guardian and has extensive publications in the health and housing press.

Whilst at college, Zenna and a group of friends created Breadline, an unemployment centre and social enterprise café. This started her passion for sustainable business development and she went on to establish three further organisations; YSHIP (now First base), a flexible non centre based service for young homeless people, PCSP an award winning, internationally recognised youth crime prevention organisation specialising in transferable programme development and Social Solutions her current venture. All her companies are run on a commercial basis and have social benefits.

In 2000 she won Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year South Region and in 2003 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Portsmouth University. Zenna is married and has two fantastic children living with her, a boy aged 13 and a girl aged 9 as well two nearly fully grown and flown step daughters.

Les Dawson

Following graduation from Brunel University in 1980, Les spent 20 years in various management positions with British Gas and latterly Transco. Les was an author of the Network Code before moving into IT where he delivered the systems that enabled competition for the 19 million UK domestic customers.

In November 2000 he joined United Utilities as an Executive Director with responsibilities for the regulated assets of what was both North West Water and Norweb.

In July 2005 Les was appointed CEO of Southern Water, the largest supplier of water and wastewater services in the South of England.

Les is a Fellow of the Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Managers and a Member of the Institute of Engineering & Technology. He is a past President of the Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Keith R Mitchell

Keith Mitchell qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1967 and enjoyed a successful career in publishing and professional education until selling his business interests in 1990 to enter public service.

He has served as a County Councillor for the Bloxham Division since 1989. He has been Leader of Oxfordshire County Council since 5 November 2001.

Keith served as Chairman of the South East England Regional Assembly from July 2005 to July 2008 and as Chairman of the English Regions Network, representing the 8 English Regions from July 2006 to July 2008.

He also served as Chairman of the South East County Leaders Group, comprising the eight county councils in the South East Region together with Essex, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

In HM the Queen’s 2007 Birthday Honours, Keith was appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in recognition of services to local government.

Jeremy Birch was born and bred in Hastings. He has been involved in community and political activity throughout his adult life. He has been a member of Hastings Borough Council and East Sussex County Council for the last 14 years and led the former from 2000-2006. He also serves on the regional council of the Arts Council for the South East and is a non-executive director of Hastings and Rother Primary Care Trust.

Notes to editors:

Remuneration for the appointments

Regional Development Agency Board Member posts attract a remuneration of £8,538 per year for a time commitment of a minimum of 2 days per month.

The body to which the appointments have been made and its function

SEEDA is the Government funded agency set up in 1999 and responsible for the economic and social development of the South East of England.

SEEDA's aim is to create a prosperous, dynamic and inspirational region by helping businesses compete more effectively, training a highly skilled workforce, supporting and enabling the region's communities, while safeguarding its natural resources and cherishing its rich cultural heritage.

Appointments being made in accordance with The Commissioner for Public Appointments Code of Practice

The appointments were made following open competition in accordance with the requirements set down in the Commissioner for Public Appointments Code of Practice. All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. However, in accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointees' political activity (if any declared) to be made public.

Response to the political activity response questionnaire, including none declared

Jeremy Birch is a Labour Councillor and has been a member of the party for thirty years. Keith Mitchell is a Conservative Councillor and has been Leader of Oxfordshire County Council since November 2001. Les Dawson and Zenna Atkins have undertaken no political activity within the past 5 years.

Response to other ministerial public appointments held and any related remuneration received.

Zenna Atkins holds a ministerial appointment as Ofsted chairman for which she receives remuneration of £46,000. Les Dawson, Keith Mitchell and Jeremy Birch do not hold any other ministerial appointments.

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