The Governance of Complexity



Presentations from the day

Chris Widgery slides here

Andrew Burns slides here

Kevin O'Keefe slides here


Workshop slides from the day 

What does good democracy and scrutiny look like? - slides here

Quality of Scrutiny - lessons from Skanska UK - slides here

Financial scrutiny and commercialisation, untangling the complexity - slides here

Housing - where next for scrutiny and resident engagement? slides here

Is health scrutiny supporting healthy partnerships? slides here - handout here - workshop write-up here


Exploring the big issues in local government scrutiny and governance

Join more than 150 colleagues from scrutiny, governance and policy from across local government to discuss the latest issues affecting the sector.

This conference sold out well in advance in 2016 so we recommend you book early to secure your place.

Programme outline

The relationship between public services and the public is changing. How we involve those affected by decisions, hear all voices, and encourage involvement is a challenge facing every political institution and public service.

The ongoing pressure of austerity has inevitably meant big decisions affecting core services and the rise of new delivery models within what is now a mixed economy. There is growing pressure on local government governance and scrutiny structures to oversee a complex world of commissioning and delivery. Democratic accountability brings responsibility, even if delivery sits elsewhere. Overview and scrutiny remains a powerful check and balance, especially where delivery sits outside traditional governance frameworks.

It vital to understand how to prevent complex structures diluting political oversight and answerability to residents and to develop new scrutiny frameworks which continue to build trust and confidence, even when service delivery is at arm’s length.

Six months after the general, mayoral and local elections – the annual CfPS local government conference is the only place where elected members, officers and others involved in governance, scrutiny, transformation, policy and delivery can come together to hear from national and local expert speakers, thinkers and practitioners. As well as network and share your own experiences with colleagues from around the UK.


Conference highlights will include

  • Expert speakers including Ministers, academics, senior representatives from local government, select committee, and officer representative bodies;
  • First-hand accounts from elected representatives managing complexity in their authority;
  • Insight and expertise, examining how to untangle the increasing complexity of local government and where accountability sits;
  • Practical experience shared by scrutineers in organisations undergoing transformation;
  • Five workshop streams with expert facilitation, honing key scrutiny skills and knowledge;
  • Opportunities to think through and action plan governance frameworks for your area;
  • Fringe events;
  • Exhibition and networking.


  • What does good democracy and scrutiny look like?
  • Quality of Scrutiny – lessons from Skanska UK
  • Untangling the complexity of financial scrutiny and commercialisation
  • Housing scrutiny and governance – building bridges between councils and residents
  • Healthy partnerships?

Delegate rates

  • £179 + VAT - voluntary sector delegate rate
  • £199 + VAT - government delegate rate
  • £229 + VAT - private sector delegate rate

We are operating a buy 3 get 1 free offer where organisations can book a fourth delegate free of charge to the conference if they book three full price delegates (cheapest delegate is free).  This offer can't be used in conjunction with any other discounts.


The Governance of Complexity  


10:00-11:00     National perspective

                        Marcus Jones MP, Local Government Minister

                        Bronwen Maddox, Director, Institute for Government

                        Andrew Burns, President, CIPFA


11:15-11:30     Break


12:00-12:15     Accountability matters

                        Sharon Kemp, Chief Executive, Rotherham City Council

                        Cllr Chris Read, Leader, Rotherham City Council


 12:15-13:15    Workshops

                         WS1 - What does good democracy and scrutiny look like?

                         WS2 - Quality of Scrutiny lessons from Skanska UK

                         WS3 - Financial scrutiny and commercialisation - untangling the complexity

                         WS4 - Housing - where next for scrutiny and resident engagement?

                         WS5 - Is health scrutiny supporting healthy partnerships?


13:15-14:15     Lunch


14:15-15:15     Workshops - repeated


15:15-15:30     Break  


15:30-16:00     Innovations in governance design: a case study from the WMCA  (Chair: Jim Clifford OBE)

                        Kevin O’Keefe, Director of Governance, City of Wolverhampton

                        Cllr Claire Spencer, Vice Chair, West Midlands Combined Authority Scrutiny Committee


16:10-16:55     Missing the mark? Where scrutiny must aim in the future.

                        Clive Betts MP, Chair, Communities and Local Government Committee

                        Dame Louise Casey


16:55-17:00     Closing comments


 The following is a draft programme and subject to change at any time.


Conference workshops

Our conference workshops are practical sessions delivered by experts and practitioners from each topic area.  In response to delegate feedback from last year we are running workshops twice. They will last for one hour and are either side of lunch 12:15-13:15 and 14:15 to 15:15.

Your two workshop selections are made at the time of booking and are subject to availability. Workshops capacity is limited by the size of the available rooms. If a workshop is not available to select when booking it means it is fully booked in that slot. 


What does good democracy and scrutiny look like?

This session will examine what local democracy really looks like, what accountability means for local people and how we can rethink the way we work in order to connect to the needs of residents. Learning from the example of innovative work carried out by the Kirklees Democracy Commission, and the Councillors’ Commission, it's time to reflect on councillors’ scrutiny role, and galvanise ourselves with some concrete ideas of how we can work together to support that role in an increasingly complicated local landscape.

Learning outcomes: Understanding local democracy and the democratic drivers for change, concrete ideas for changing scrutiny to make it more meaningful and vital for local people and councillors alike.         


Quality of Scrutiny – lessons from Skanska UK

Skanska UK is a global construction company renowned for its value based approach to business. In 2016, they introduced a new Quality of Scrutiny programme aimed at improving the quality and quantity of scrutiny carried out at all stages of a project. As well as introducing new project gateways, the programme focused on scrutiny behaviours, skills and techniques with coaching and training aimed at the most senior leaders and now being rolled out UK-wide. CfPS has worked with Skanska on the development and delivery of the programme from the outset, including the use of the 'Time to Think' methodology.

This interactive workshop will provide an opportunity to learn more about the Skanska approach and try out some of the 'Time to Think' methodologies.

Learning outcomes: Hearing about the Skanska’s approach will provide opportunities for learning from the private sector as well as trying out a new scrutiny technique or two.

Facilitators: James Shrimpton, Quality of Scrutiny National Programme Lead, Skanska UK and Mitzi Wyman, CfPS Consultant and Time to Think Practitioner 


Financial scrutiny and commercialisation - untangling the complexity

This workshop will examine how councils are increasingly taking a more commercial approach to securing their balance sheets – investment in property and assets and a more entrepreneurial approach to trading. But where do the risks lie, and what does this mean for the scrutiny role – and local democracy? How can we ensure that we fully understand and act on the risks both of more assertively commercial approaches, when placed against the risk of financial unsustainability if we do nothing?

Learning outcomes: A sense of the key drivers behind commercialisation, what it is, how scrutiny can engage with it, what the outcomes of that scrutiny might be and how to 'sell' that within a council.


Housing - where next for scrutiny and resident engagement?

Housing organisations, of all descriptions, have a long history of resident engagement and scrutiny. There are some great examples where it is working well with tenants’ voices sought and reflected in all levels of decision-making. The tragedy at Grenfell has, however, caused us all to reflect on how we can improve the way we engage with residents and build trust in our decision-making processes.

This workshop will provide an opportunity to hear different perspectives on the issue of resident engagement including some examples of best practise. Delegates will be asked to explore how we can ensure our governance mechanisms are open to public scrutiny and how we can give assurance that voices are heard.

Learning outcomes: A critically important issue that has implications for council scrutiny functions beyond the issue of housing, a better understanding of opportunities to engage with tenant voice.


Is health scrutiny supporting healthy partnerships?

This workshop will consider the key principles that support an effective partnership approach to health and care governance. In light of the development of Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships and Accountable Care Systems as the mechanisms for achieving the Five Year Forward View, how can local government best add value through its executive and scrutiny roles?

Learning outcomes: Understand the key principles that support effective health and care governance – what does a good partnership look like? What are the implications of a partnership approach to health and care governance for people with a non-executive/scrutiny/assurance role? What needs to be in place to make accountability of health and care effective?



Keep posted for exciting information about this year's sponsors. 

Sponsorship Opportunities

We have a range of excellent sponsorship and exhibition options for this conference which will help your organisation achieve great exposure with conference delegates.

For more information and to discuss your requirements please contact Nicolay Sorensen:  |  020 3866 5104


Who is the conference for?

Good governance and the role of elected representatives in uncovering the truth and using their democratic mandate to scrutinise is a critical issue for all councils and democratic institutions. This conference will be particularly important for:

  • Leaders
  • Chief Executives
  • Elected councillors
  • Members of Parliament
  • Scrutiny Chairs and Scrutiny Members
  • Scrutiny Managers/Officers
  • Democratic Services Directors/Managers/Officers
  • Legal and Compliance Directors/Managers/Officers
  • Policy Directors/Managers/Officers
  • Transparency campaigners

How much does the conference cost?

The conference costs are as follows:

Super Early Bird rates (up to 25.08.17)

  • Voluntary sector delegate £149 (+ VAT)
  • Government delegate £169 (+ VAT)
  • Private sector delegate £199 (+ VAT)

Early bird rates (up to 29.09.17)

  • Voluntary sector delegate £159 (+ VAT)
  • Government delegate £179 (+ VAT)
  • Private sector delegate £209 (+ VAT)

Delegate rates after (from 30.09.17)

  • Voluntary sector delegate £179 (+ VAT)
  • Government delegate £199 (+ VAT)
  • Private sector delegate £229 (+ VAT)

We are also operating a buy three get one free offer where if you book three delegates you can book a fourth delegate free. This discount is added automatically at check-out. The cheapest delegate will be discounted and the offer can't be used in conjunction with any other offers.

How do I book to attend this event?

Event bookings for the conference are made online using through this website. You can register as a delegate (or register multiple delegates) using the intuitive booking system. 

Most organisations will be paying by invoice. In order for all invoices to be processed you will need to enter a purchase order when you book. Please make sure you have a purchase order from your finance department in advance of making the booking.

Please make sure you select a workshop for each delegate attending the conference.

What do I do if I have a problem?

If you encounter any problems or require assistance from CfPS relating to the conference or your booking please contact Antonia Umeasalugo - |  020 3866 5100

What if I need to amend or cancel my booking?

We are happy to take substitute delegates up to 48hrs in advance of the conference. If you need to change the name/s of any delegates please call us and we can make the appropriate changes.

Our cancellation terms are as follows:

  • Cancellations made in writing before 22 November 2017 will receive a full refund, minus an administration fee of £50.
  • We regret that no refund can be made after that date, although substitutions can be made. 
  • CfPS are not able to offer refunds for cancellations arising from events outside of our control.
  • We are unable to cover any expenses occurred for attending the conference. In the unlikely event that the conference is cancelled for reasons beyond our control, we will be unable to refund any expenses incurred by delegates.


Holiday Inn

Bloomsbury, Coram St, London WC1N 1HT

Holiday Inn Bloonmsbury


The Holiday Inn, Bloomsbury is one of the best and most centrally located conference venues in London. In the heart of Bloomsbury with easy access from a variety of transport hubs and just a stone's throw from the famous Russell Square.

In addition to the main conference hall we will be using a variety of syndicate rooms and a full exhibition area for our sponsors and partners.


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Transport links

Russell Square Station (Piccadilly Line) - 1 min walk

King's Cross St Pancras (Circle, Hammersmith and City, Metropolitan, Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines) - 11 mins walk

Euston Station (Northen and Vicotria Lines) - 10 mins walk 

Holborn Station (Central and Picadilly Lines - 12 mins walk

Bus routes 59, 68, 91, 98, 168 and 188 all have stops close to Russell Square.

Governance of Complexity Speakers


collage of speakers


Dr Catherine Howe is an expert in digital and social change. Since 2001, Catherine has worked from different system perspectives to explore how new technologies can deliver innovative solutions for the network society while helping clients understand the strategic and organisational implications of technology and social change.

She is a technologist by trade with a background in software development and technology delivery and has worked with new technologies for over 15 years. Her current role at Capita is exploring how best to encourage a digital mindset - and leadership - throughout an organisation as well as developing new methods and approaches for digital transformation.

Her research focuses on building civic architecture in cyberspace. You can find out more on her blog (, her linked in profile ( or by following her on twitter (@curiousc).


Bronwen Maddox is the Director of the Institute for Government, a leading independent think tank, which works to promote better government by focusing on how it is led, how decisions are made and how it is scrutinised.

From 2010-2016, Bronwen was Editor and Chief Executive of Prospect, a leading monthly current affairs magazine. Prior to that, she was Chief Foreign Commentator, Foreign Editor and US Editor of The Times. She was previously at the Financial Times, where she ran award-winning investigations and wrote economics editorials.

She has a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from St John’s College, Oxford.  She is a member of the Governing Council of the Ditchley Foundation which fosters transatlantic relations, and a non-executive board member of the Law Commission, the public body which recommends reform of laws in England and Wales. 


Andrew Burns is President of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA); Director of Finance and Resources for Staffordshire County Council (SCC) and Chairman of the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies (CCAB).

He was elected to CIPFA Council in 2010 and has chaired the Group Board, Policy and Standards Board and led CIPFA’s Aligning Public Services Working Group.

As Director of Finance and Resources for SCC he has strategic responsibility for finance, HR, ICT, digital, property, commercial and customer services and is Treasurer of the Staffordshire Pension Fund.

For his CCAB role he leads the group representing the main UK accountancy bodies, with a combined membership of over 380,000 professional accountants worldwide.


Sharon Kemp was appointed Chief Executive of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council in February 2016.

Sharon has worked within the public sector for over 20 years across community safety, neighbourhood management, community cohesion, performance and partnerships.

Starting her career within the Greater Manchester Police Force and moving into Local Government with the advent of the Crime and Disorder Act, she went on to spend six years in Blackburn and Darwen, working in the Regeneration Department, then two years at the London Borough of Haringey as Assistant Chief Executive in the aftermath of the Baby P case.  Prior to arriving in Rotherham, Sharon was the Assistant Chief Executive for People and then Strategic Director (Reform) at Manchester City Council from September 2009. She also has an Honours Degree in Public Administration.


Councillor Chris Read was elected on 5th May 2011 and he was elected Leader of the Council on 4th March 2015 in the wake of Louise Casey’s corporate governance inspection report.  He is the Chair of the Rotherham Together Partnership and represents Rotherham Council on the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority, including chairing the Skills, Employment and Education Executive Board.  He is also Vice Chair of Governors at a Rotherham Primary School.


Jim Clifford OBE MSc FCA FRSA is a chartered accountant and chartered tax practitioner.  He heads the Advisory and Impact team at BWB and helps both Private and Social Sector organisations to enhance and realise value through acquisitions, disposals, mergers and other structural, and transactional approaches as well as through social investment fundraising, outcomes-based planning, strategy and evaluations. 

Jim blends his professional work in the UK and Europe with academic research and lecturing. He sits on the European Commission’s GECES group advising on the development of social enterprise in the EU.  He was the lead author the EU Impact Measurement standards for GECES, which are now embodied in secondary legislation.


Kevin O’Keefe is Director of Governance and Solicitor to the City of Wolverhampton Council, with responsibility for a dozen or so corporate service areas including Democratic Services. 

Kevin sits on the Council’s top table which has steered the organisation to winning this years’ Municipal Journal Awards for Local Authority of the Year, Most Improved Council of the Year, Excellence in Governance & Scrutiny and Senior Management Team of the Year. 

A Solicitor for almost 30 years, Kevin is passionate about developing positive working environments which stimulate both teams and individuals to excel in whatever they do. He is particularly proud of his team’s work in developing the governance arrangements of the newly created West Midlands Combined Authority.


Clive Betts MP began his political career in 1973 and in 1976 was elected as a member of Sheffield City Council. He became Leader of the Council in 1987 and remained on the Council until his election as Labour Member of Parliament for Sheffield Attercliffe in 1992.

Clive was appointed a Government Whip in 1997 and held the post until 2001. In June 2010, he was elected as Chair of the Department for Communities and Local Government Select Committee and re-elected in 2015.

Since becoming a Member of Parliament, Clive has been a key member on several Select Committees and includes the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. His political interests include Economic policy, local and regional government and housing. He is chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Arms Length Management Organisations and the Netherlands Group in Parliament.

Clive can frequently be found in the stands at Sheffield Wednesday FC and is Captain of the UK Parliament football club.


Dame Louise Casey DBE CB has been instrumental in the development of many bespoke social policy programmes for Government. She has consistently delivered brave and innovative solutions to long standing social problems ranging from homelessness to anti-social behaviour to troubled families. 

At the request of the Prime Minister, she led a review into integration in the United Kingdom published December 2016. 

Throughout this, Dame Louise has maintained her commitment to the charity sector and has been a driving force in the establishment of the Institute for Global Homelessness, with the aim of delivering an international solution to homelessness across the world.

Dame Louise was awarded the Companion of the Order of Bath (CB) in the Queen's birthday honours list, 2008 and made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the Queen's birthday honours list, 2016.