I was born in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, UK, and brought up in St Helens, Lancashire, from where I attended Liverpool College (1955-64) and read Law at Peterhouse, Cambridge (1964-67). I was also awarded the postgraduate Cambridge LL.B and LL.M degrees in 1971 and 1975 respectively, and a PhD at Leicester University in 2015.
After early career experience in local government law at St. Helens and Grimsby, in April 1981 I became Chief Executive of the City of Durham, moving in June 1986 to become Chief Executive and Town Clerk of Northampton Borough Council. I retired from there in July 2004.
I have been professionally active in local government throughout my career, and was President of the Association of District Secretaries in 1979-80, President of SOLACE in 1995-96, and also President of its trade union counterpart ALACE for some years up to 2004. I have been a member of the Law Society’s Board for its Diploma of Local Government Law and Practice since its inception in 1982, and have chaired it for some twenty years. I still have a current Solicitor’s practising certificate.
I have written widely, including Parliament and the Public Libraries (1977); The Public Lending Right Handbook (1980); Solicitors and Local Authorities (1982); Local Government Ground Rules (1990); (with Roger Paine) Will You Manage? The Needs of Local Authority Chief Executives (1995); and (with Mark Heath) Running Elections (7th edition, 2013) and Local Government, Local Legislation (2016).
I served as Chairman of the Corporation of Northampton College from 2005 - 2015 and remain a Governor; I am a Trustee and Deputy Chair of the Victoria County History Trust for Northamptonshire and a consultant for the Association of Local Authority Chief Executives (ALACE).