Find out about this year’s participants.
- Alex Coley, Epsom and Ewell Borough Council
Alex Coley worked in the public sector for several years. He was the co-lead for digital and social media on the Grenfell Response Team, advised the Met Police on digital and social media after the 2011 riots, and was a contributor to the Local Digital Declaration.
After election in 2018, Alex founded a charity to benefit vulnerable people in one of the most deprived neighbourhoods in England, producing the constitution, recruiting trustees, and fundraising. He continues to serve as the Chair of Trustees.
Alex has been chair and vice chair of a number of committees at his council and currently sits on the Improvement and Innovation Board at the LGA, where he takes a keen interest in Sector Led Improvement.
- Chidi Nweke, Epping Forest District Council
Chidiebere (Chidi) Nweke is a husband and a father of three young sons. He is the District Councillor for Loughton Alderton Ward in Epping Forest District Council. He currently works at Westminster City Council and has been an employee there for the last 13 years. A well-known and a highly respected member of staff, he has been at the centre of several high-profile cases and his work has helped to transform the City Council’s enforcement policies.
Since moving to Loughton with his young family, Chidi has enjoyed and fallen in love with the vibrancy of the town, its open space and the people. Chidi is passionate about community integration, diversity and inclusion. This is evident in his work with the learning and development subcommittee of the BAME group in Westminster City Council. He is currently representing Loughton Residents Association at the Essex Police Independent Advisory Group.
Chidi Nweke also runs a property management and investment business with his wife, with the long-term aspiration of providing affordable homes to those who need it the most in the community. He holds a master’s degree in Environmental Management and a first degree in Criminology.
- Diana Moore, Exeter City Council
Diana Moore was elected to Exeter City Council in 2019, and serves the city ward of St David’s. She is a member of the Planning committee as well as the Audit and Governance committee.
Diana is Co-leader of the Progressive Group, made up of two green councillors, two Liberal Democrats, and an Independent councillor.
As well as being a councillor, Diana is a self-employed business advisor working with social and community enterprises and specialising in governance, community share investment and community-owned assets.
- Ed Gemmell, Buckinghamshire Council
Ed Gemmell is a Bucks Unitary Councillor, Hazelmere Parish Councillor, managing director of Scientists Warning Europe and founder No Disposable Cup Day.
He is a member of NALC, the LGA and unitary and parish council environment groups/committees. Ed was elected unitary councillor with only one policy of Climate Action Now.
Ed works tirelessly to try to prevent the climate crisis and protect his children's future.
He will be attending COP26 as head of the delegation for Scientists Warning Europe. He is a vegetarian and electric car driver who doesn't fly.
- Georgia Taylor, East Sussex County Council
I became a County Councillor for East Sussex in May 2021, having campaigned with the Green Party for the past two years. My other area of work is in the International Development sector, working mostly for NGOs and the UK government.
I have an MBA and a long track record of working in economic development and in the health sector internationally (mostly in Central America, Nigeria, and Pakistan). Most of my recent work has focused on improving gender equality and inclusion in aid projects and within organisations.
I also have experience of running my own consultancy company and of being on several NGO and private sector boards in the past.
- Julia Hilton, East Sussex County Council and Hastings Borough Council
In May 2021 I became one of the first four Green County Councillors for East Sussex, and the first Green borough councillor for Hastings.
My background is in public art and landscape architecture, with a strong community focus. I am also a director of a Community Energy co-op and a trustee of Hastings Greenway Trust, dedicated to bringing safe off-road walking and cycling routes to Hastings. I am part of the Hastings as a Garden Town Team which is going forward as part of the Town Deal Investment Plan for Hastings.
We have elections again at Hastings Borough Council in May 2022 and I am hopeful of gaining some Green colleagues. If we are lucky, we may then hold the balance of power.
- Karen Lucioni, Isle of Wight Council
I was first elected in 2013 to Ryde Town Council, where I have been active at grass roots level, working with my community on environmental issues, public safety and community resilience.
I have been the chair of many committees including making sure our council is accessible to all. I have total commitment in having my residents and businesses trust me. I make sure I visit as many as I can, keeping everyone up to date. Communication is key and to be a great community leader.
This May I was elected to the Isle of Wight council where I am now chair of neighbourhoods and regeneration; the accessibility champion; and sit on many other committees.
I am also a substitute on the Safer and Stronger Board for the LGA. My hope is that this course will expand my knowledge and skills in being a better councillor and lead member.
- Marie Brady, Bolton Council
After taking early retirement in 2014, I became involved in local politics due to concerns about a 1,700 home development of a former rail works. This led to an awareness of the impact on the small town of Horwich by the lack of infrastructure to support that development and other housing developments in the area.
In May 2015, along with another resident, we stood and were elected to Horwich Town Council as Independent councillors. It soon became apparent the Town Council had little influence on Bolton Council. We registered as a political party in 2019 and stood two candidates for Bolton Council and 11 for Horwich Town Council in the 2019 local elections; all were elected.
Working with F&KF at Bolton Council, we have seen huge improvements to local funding.
- Peter La Broy, Cornwall Council
Peter joined his local town council in 2007, serving two years as mayor, and he continues as a town councillor. He was elected to Cornwall Council in 2017 and re-elected in 2021. Peter is particularly interested in the historic fabric of his patch, but also wishes to promote a healthy and vibrant local economy.
He is married to Clare with three adult children, loves the sea and enjoys his kayak and paddleboard. His career was spent in marketing for an international engineering company then, as a self-employed retailer and commercial property owner.
Peter has recently led a project to save Compass Point, a landmark building sitting on the cliffs at Bude, which is under threat from coastal recession. He has concerns about ongoing distancing of government at all levels from their communities.
- Scott Lee, Northumberland County Council
Scott was elected in May 2021 as an independent County Councillor, winning the seat with a 42.3 per cent swing from Labour. The result made it onto Sky News!
Since being elected, Scott now serves as vice chair of the Local Area Council, a role which sees him chair the Community Chest panel which he finds a particularly rewarding aspect of local government. He also serves on the Licensing Committee, drawing on his many years of commercial experience as a publican.
Scott is an active councillor and has engaged fully with residents, charities, housing officers, community police and operations teams to get results for his ward, Cramlington East.
- Marianne Overton MBE, Elected Leader of the LGA Independent Group and Vice Chair of the LGA
Successfully re-elected four times, Marianne has overseen the Independent Group grow significantly in numbers and influence. The group is now the third largest in number, with over 2,000 well-informed and effective councillors, focused on getting the best for their residents.
Marianne is particularly active on environmental issues, health and social care and education. She is currently on the Planning Committee of both her councils and a past chairman. Her local election votes are among the highest in Lincolnshire and she is well known for her community engagement and determination to represent people directly, regardless of party politics.
After her science degree and postgraduate with the University of London, Marianne taught to A Level and went on to a second business career organising and running challenging expeditions for personal development through biodiversity research and helping with anti-poaching patrols in remote parts of Africa. She served as a governor of the University of Lincoln and vice chairman of the primary care trust (PCT) board responsible for health across the county and a £1 billion budget. First fighting successfully for a bypass, Marianne was elected to council in 1995. She has served successfully at all levels of local government, both in coalition control and currently as Leader of the Opposition on her council. Marianne has brought colleagues to succeed in what used to be solid Blue areas, and polled a personal landslide at the county council elections this year, winning against the odds.
Her long running and extensive experience in a range of fields and professions has given her a background of sound communication in education, scientific training and practices that helps in analysing data; experience in management of organisations with substantial budgets, voluntary organisations, and small business, as well as an excellent awareness of the fundamental needs of communities. Marianne is a passionate advocate for women in government and was awarded a Fellow of the University of Lincoln and then the MBE in 2015 for Services to the Community.
- Sarah Woodhouse, Head of the LGA Independent Group Office
With a master’s degree from UCL in International Public Policy and a diploma in Public Relations, Sarah is a passionate advocate of social justice, having spent the last 15 years influencing policy across issues of health, social care, housing, welfare and justice.
Sarah joined the LGA in August 2016 from the voluntary sector where she led the policy, parliamentary and press activity for a large health and social care organisation. During this time, she wrote a number of parliamentary speeches, responded to government consultations and gave evidence to select committees. She also published a number of articles and led successful media campaigns.
Sarah also acted as clerk to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Complex Needs; undertook a secondment to the Department of Health to co-write the Coalition Government’s mental health strategy; and assisted NHS England with its mental health parity of esteem programme. She also contributed to the Independent Commission on Mental Health and Policing and the London Fairness Commission.
Prior to joining the voluntary sector, Sarah worked for Kent County Council, Gravesham Borough Council, Dartford Borough Council and ‘Global Justice Now’, a small international development NGO.
- Mike Haines, LGA Independent Group National Member Peer, Teignbridge District Council
Mike has been a district councillor at Teignbridge (South Devon) since 1987. During the 90s he was chair of planning and of the council, and was also chair of the Local Government Partnership Committee (1998 to 2003).
From 2003 to 2007 he was chair of planning (Development Control), 2007 to May 2011 he was executive portfolio holder for planning. He was also chair of the Teign Estuary Partnership, chair of the member group (10 Authorities) for the South Devon and Dorset Shoreline Management Plan and chair of the Devon Building Control Partnership (shared service with South Hams & West Devon). Between 2013 and 2019 he was chair of overview & scrutiny. He is currently leader of the Teignbridge Independent Group and chair of planning.
Since 2003 Mike has been involved with the Local Government Association. He was deputy chair of the LGA Environment Board from 2005 to 2011 and deputy chair of the LGA Economy and Transport Board from 2011 to 2014.
He was chair of the National Planning Forum (2009-2011), and also chaired the LGA’s Inland Flood Risk Management Group. Mike is currently LGA Independent Group National Lead Member Peer. His previous occupation was as a teacher/FE lecturer of geography and environmental science from the mid-70s until 2002.