County council appoints new Legal Head

  |  Published: Apr 7th 2015
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Buckinghamshire County Council has appointed Hugh Peart as its new Head of Legal to succeed Anne Davies, who is retiring.

Hugh, currently in the top legal seat at Harrow Borough, will divide his time between the two authorities, and explore ways in which the two councils’ legal functions can work more closely together to share expertise, cut duplication and reduce costs. He starts on April 1.

Hugh, who is 55, has been a Director at Harrow for more than 10 years, having started his career in private practice.  He said: 'I am looking forward to working with Buckinghamshire’s excellent legal team to ensure it has a sustainable future and provides the best possible support to the County’s many services.'

Both Buckinghamshire and Harrow councils have followed a similar progressive path to develop an Alternative Business Structure (ABS) - licences that allow their legal teams to set up as limited companies to provide legal services to other local authorities, and the public, voluntary and charitable sectors.

Currently they are the only two Councils in the country that have been successful in forming ABS companies. Hugh’s appointment to the joint council role will be separate from both companies’ operations.

Peter Hardy, Buckinghamshire’s Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources said: ‘Anne will be a very difficult act to follow, but in Hugh I’m confident we have strong and progressive legal leadership, who can draw on a breadth of legal expertise from two teams of highly professional practitioners.’

Peter said that sharing legal services would provide both authorities with greater capacity and more flexibility in responding to council demands, extend the range of expertise, and in a climate of slimmer government grants, help towards reducing costs.

'Working with Harrow will give us additional opportunities for our legal team to generate income from new customers,' he said.

Anne Davies has been Head of the County Council’s Legal Team for 12 years, having been appointed to the role in July 2002 from private practice. Last year she led Buckinghamshire’s application to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for ABS status to form Buckinghamshire Law Plus.

Anne said: ‘I have never regretted my move from private practice into local government. The work is always challenging and stimulating. I would urge lawyers looking to develop their careers to consider seriously all that the public sector has to offer.’

Hugh Peart led Harrow’s campaign for ABS status last year, forming HB Public Law. He said: 'Excellent legal advice is essential for local authorities as they tackle the significant challenges ahead. I will be focusing my time on ensuring they can access that advice at the least possible cost to enable them to focus scarce resources on front line services.'

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