As always, we have an exceptional line-up of guest speakers and exhibitors for you to enjoy at our 2018 Solace Summit. The theme of this year’s Solace Summit is Future Horizons, and will focus on how local government leaders can maximise the opportunities that lie ahead while successfully managing the risks to local communities as change accelerates.

  Day 1 - Wednesday October 17th


Registration & Exhibition Opens





Study Tour One: Digital Catapult – “Brighton & Hove – a global tech hub”

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Study Tour Two: The Advanced Engineering Centre, University of Brighton

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INNOVATION HUB  – Click here for further details




Grant Thornton Session

From resilience to sustainability

This year’s session from Grant Thornton UK LLP covers what is arguably the most important topic facing local government – financial sustainability.

 In an interactive session Grant Thornton will cover the levers in place for councils to ensure their ongoing financial sustainability, including the importance of long term forecasting of both costs and future revenues from council tax, business rates, fees and charges and other income sources. The session will also consider how local authorities can further innovate and transform, and develop strategies that will not only help them survive in the shorter term but whose overall objective is to achieve longer term financial sustainability.

Speakers: Phillip Woolley, Partner, Grant Thornton UK LLP

Alex Khaldi, Parnter, Grant Thornton UK LLP



Ignite is a system leadership programme designed specifically to enable current local government Chief Executives to develop their understanding of their roles in an increasingly complex environment.
Ignite is a Solace programme delivered with Collaborate CIC  and sponsored by the Local Government Association, and supported by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Three cohorts of Chief Executives have now participated, exploring what it means to be a great public leader in a changing political and policy environment. Themes explored have ranged from health and social care integration, the future of central-local relations, system leadership, relationships with staff, the future of digital and the role of social activism. Through the sessions, participants have reflected on what these themes mean for them as Chief Executives of local authorities and their changing role as leaders within systems and places.
This session will enable you to hear more about the programme and from some of those who have benefitted to date. It will also launch an essay collection authored by invited Chief Executives who have participated in the programme with an introduction from Collaborate/Solace, will form a sister piece to the original report we published in July 2017. This report showed how the role and skill set of chief executives within local government


Refreshments & Exhibition Viewing

Sponsored by thoughtonomy



President’s Opening Address

Jo Miller, Chief Executive , Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council


Welcome to Brighton & Hove

Geoff Raw, Chief Executive, Brighton & Hove Council


Opening Keynote: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Margaret Heffernan

Dr. Margaret Heffernan produced programmes for the BBC for 13 years. She then moved to the US where she spearheaded multimedia productions for Intuit, The Learning Company and Standard & Poors. She was Chief Executive of InfoMation Corporation, ZineZone Corporation and then iCast Corporation, was named one of the “Top 25” by Streaming Media magazine and one of the “Top 100 Media Executives” by The Hollywood Reporter. Dr. Heffernan’s third book, Wilful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at our Peril was named one of the most important business books of the decade by the Financial Times. In 2015, she was awarded the Transmission Prize for A Bigger Prize: Why Competition isn’t Everything and How We Do Better, described as “meticulously researched…engagingly written…universally relevant and hard to fault.” Her TED talks have been seen by over eight million people and in 2015 TED published Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes. She is Lead Faculty for the Forward Institute’s Responsible Leadership Programme and, through Merryck & Co., mentors CEOs and senior executives of major global organisations. She holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Bath and continues to write for the Financial Times. An updated edition of Willful Blindness is due out in autumn 2018; Dr. Hefernan’s  newest book is scheduled for release in Spring 2019.


Welcome Drinks Reception

Cllr Dee Simson, Mayor of Brighton & Hove


‘An Evening with Solace’
Sponsored by EY

The Hilton Waterfront Bar & Terrace

Business Partner Dinners

by Invite only

  Day 2 - Thursday October 18th


Exhibition & Refreshments

Sponsored by Thoughtonomy


INNOVATION ZONEclick here for further information


Plenary Two: Changing the sector: Transformation at scale

Born out of local government, FutureGov has been leading the industry in the way we create organisations fit for the 21st century for the last ten years. Through user-led technology products, we’re radically changing public services to make a big impact. Today, we’re seeing digital teams across the public sector transform the way organisations work. Informed by Dominic’s recent experience as interim Chief Digital Officer of Homes England, which is going through a radical change of scale, we’re asking: how can we create sustainable change that is considerate of local challenges and how can the public sector be the ones other organisations aspire to emulate?

Supported by two leaders in digital innovation, this session will reflect on the last ten years across the sector and look forward to the emerging opportunities of the future, facing the challenge of taking large, established organisations through transformational change.


Keynote Speaker: Dominic Campbell , CEO, Future Gov & Interim CDO, Homes England

Sally Meecham, Interim COO, GDS

Matthew Cain, Head of Digital & Data, London Borough of Hackney







INNOVATION HUB –  click here for further details


Plenary Three: Redefining Value for the Future

The idea that public sector procurement can unlock wider economic, social and environmental benefits for residents and communities is not new. But there is a renewed focus on social value in public policy discussion, following the demise of Carillion and amidst ongoing concerns about the long-term cost of PFI initiatives. Is it time for a fundamental rethink about what we mean by value and how we embed it as an integral principle in our consideration of the future of public services?


Keynote Speakers: Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE

Peter Holbrook CBE, Chief Executive, Social Enterprise UK

Panel Chair: Jo Miller , Chief Executive, Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council




Discussion Groups 

For further information on these session Click here



Study Tour Three: Preserving Brighton & Hove’s historic seafront and securing investment for the future.

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Study Tour Four: Housing delivery models.

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Lunch & Exhibition Viewing

Sponsored by Thoughtonomy


Plenary Four: Comprehensive Spending Review – Can we Create a Sustainable Sector?


In March, the Chancellor of the Exchequer confirmed that a Comprehensive Spending Review would be called in 2019. For local government, the stakes could not be higher, with the long-term sustainability of local services seriously in question. With the first Section 114 notice in almost two decades having been issued earlier this year and no certainty about council funding after 2020, the risk of financial failure looms large.


This session will explore what needs to be done to ensure that local public services come out of the next Comprehensive Spending Review on sustainable footing.


Keynote Speakers: Melanie Dawes CB Permanent Secretary, DCLG

Rob Whiteman , Chief Executive , CIPFA

Adam Lent, Director, New Local Government Network


Refreshments & Exhibition Viewing

Sponsored by Thoughtonomy


INNOVATION ZONEclick here for further details


Sub Plenary One: A new dawn? The social housing green paper

The publication of a social housing green paper represents a historic shift in the government’s approach to housing policy. Does it deliver the ‘root-and-branch’ examination of the state of social housing that was originally promised or is it a bit of damp squib? In this session, our panel of leading policy-makers and practitioners will share their reflections and set out how we can best use the green paper as a platform for a much-needed national conversation about the value of social housing in our communities

Chair: Jo Miller, Chief Executive , Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council

Speakers: Jim Saunders, Director of Business Development, Pinnacle PSG LTD

Dame Louise Casey DBE CB


Sub Plenary Two: Holding the Money

Although most of the key factors that will determine the long-term sustainability of local services will be settled in the next Comprehensive Spending Review, as public service leaders we have a responsibility to be at the top of our game when it comes to strategic financial management for our organisations. This session is an opportunity to hear from an expert panel on how to make the most of evidence and governance tools to weather this time of unprecedented financial uncertainty.


Speakers: Abdool Kara, Executive Leader, Local Services, National Audit Office

Sarah Howard, President, CIPFA

Chair: TBC


Sub Plenary Three: Commercialisation – Headlines and commitments

Commercialisation in public bodies is everywhere. Financially challenged by austerity, Local Authorities are turning to commercial ventures as one way to generate the funds needed to deliver essential services. We are seeing the rise of the ‘deal-making’ CEO and the ethical questions about the role and purpose of a local authority need attention.


Commercial ventures are inherently risky: investing in the high street, when retailers are failing, commercial property development in the shadow of Brexit. All have their potential returns, and their potential downfalls so are we sure we are managing the full spectrum effectively?


In this session we’ll look at the some of the areas of challenge around the commercialisation agenda, including the ethical and social considerations, and consider the key questions, frameworks and governance needed to manage the risks.


Speakers: Alix Bedford, Risk Relationship Consultant, Zurich Municipal

Robert Weaver, Deputy Chief Executive, Tewkesbury Borough Council

Sub Plenary Four: Modern Slavery


On Anti-Slavery Day we invite you to join us for a highly interactive session.


Local government is one of the UK’s biggest contractors of private goods and services and also one of its biggest employers. Although local government has started to work on this issue, as awareness grows of the scale of modern slavery, there is increasing concern that public money could unwittingly be contributing to the problem.


The Modern Slavery (Transparency in Supply Chains) Bill – sponsored by Baroness Young – seeks to extend the reporting requirement of the Act to include all public authorities. This practical and thought-provoking briefing will draw on private sector experience to support attendees to respond proactively to these growing concerns and expectations.


Experienced local government leadership consultant, Max Wide along with James Barlow and Zoe Croom from leading human rights consultancy twentyfifty will facilitate this highly interactive session.


Relevant questions for you to consider when deciding to attend this session include:
Are you confident you know the extent of the issue in your area?
Are you doing all you can?
How are you using this debate to change organisations and communities?


Max Wide, Associate Director, Future Cities Catapult

James Barlow, Associate Director, TwentyFifty

Zoe Croom, Associate Director, TwentyFifty


End of Day Two


Pre-Dinner Drinks

Sponsored by Newton



Hilton Metropole, Brighton


Charity Dinner

Sponsored by Virgin Media



Hilton Metropole, Brighton

  Day 3 Friday October 19th


Exhibition & Refreshments

Sponsored by Thoughtonomy


Plenary Five: Building the village: Supporting children and young people to thrive


Over the past decade, children’s safeguarding as local government’s biggest pressure for unplanned spending, leaving many councils with little choice other than to protect budgets for acute need. But we know that this is coming at the cost of investing upstream to create the right conditions for all children and young people to thrive. Our expert panel will challenge us to think about how as public service leaders we can use all our powers and resources to promote resilient families and communities.


Keynote Speakers: Fiona Duncan, Independent Chair for Care Review in Scotland

Sammy Woodhouse, Author of Just a Child: Britain’s Biggest Child Abuse Scandal Exposed

Chair: Chris Naylor, Chief Executive, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham


Exhibition Viewing Time


INNOVATION HUB – click here for further information


Plenary Six: Using Data and connectivity to improve Public Services

Using data and connectivity to improve public services:


Digital technology is developing rapidly. The latest technological wave is transforming how we live and work, and having profound impacts on the communities we serve. How we are now able to utilise vast quantities of data, using AI in particular, is increasingly seen as having the potential to radically improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public services, while presenting new and testing ethic and political challenges.


This session will explore the potential of digital technology with practical examples from both across the UK and internationally. We will also explore what we might get wrong along the way and start to shape a roadmap to help our organisation utilise tech ethically.

Keynote Speakers: Geoff Mulgan, Chief Executive, Nesta

Dr Amen Mashariki, Chief Digital Officer, Esri UK

Nicola Yates, Chief Executive, Future Cities Catapult

Chair: Barry Quirk, Chief Executive, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea


President’s Closing Address



Study Tour Five: Productive, inclusive, different: A new economic strategy for Brighton & Hove. This tour includes a flight on the British Airways i360

Click Here for further information

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