Meet the team
Neil has been involved in public sector policy and delivery for over 20 years. Whilst having experience in developing partnerships and innovative policy responses to global, regional and local economic, social and environmental challenges, his particular skills are in local economic and social research, analysis and development; policy practice, research methodologies; facilitation and strategy building. He regularly conducts work across UK and in locations around the world. A leading commentator on economic development and public policy, Neil has featured in Local Government Chronicle’s annual top 50 most influential people in local government. He is chair of the Greater Manchester Poverty Action Group and also chairs BHA, a health and social care charity. Neil became chief executive of CLES in 2003.
An experienced and skilled researcher, Matthew has worked in regeneration, local economic development and local governance for almost a decade. He leads CLES’ work on procurement and specialises in analysing and interpreting public policy and examining the local economic and social impact of public interventions. Recent projects include LM3 studies for the London Borough of Lambeth and City Hospital, Birmingham and research into the role and value of local authority assets. Matthew is involved in all aspects of CLES activities including membership, training, policy research, policy advice and consultancy. Matthew joined CLES in April 2005, prior to which he worked in an academic research centre.
Adrian is an experienced researcher specialising in socio-economic trends and their implications for policymakers and leads CLES’ ongoing place resilience programme. He has delivered a range of projects for public and private sector clients and has an in-depth knowledge local, regional and national economic development strategy and policy. Adrian recently managed the Enterprising Bradford Evaluation, which assessed a number of ERDF funded regeneration projects, and an evaluation of measures to enhance the labour market competitiveness of long-term unemployed residents in deprived areas of Manchester. He joined CLES as a senior policy consultant in July 2009.
Mark joined CLES in 2014 as Associate Director and brings to the role significant policy and academic research experience. He was previously Senior Researcher at CREW Regeneration Wales, where he was one of the authors of the Tredegar “Deep Place” report, a new place-based approach to economically, socially, culturally and environmentally sustainable communities. Mark was also formerly a political advisor at the National Assembly for Wales and a researcher at Cardiff University. He has a PhD in Welsh governance which considered the emergence of devolution. Outside of work, Mark is Non-Executive Chairman of Glandwr Cymru – The Canal and River Trust in Wales, part of the UK’s largest social enterprise, which is responsible for inland waterways. He is an Honorary University Associate and a Member of the Court of Cardiff University.
With almost a decade of experience in consultancy, Natalie has a strong background in projects relating to research and evaluation having worked with a range of clients including government departments, regional development agencies, local authorities and voluntary and community organisations. Her specialisms include well-being, social exclusion and employment and worklessness. Natalie joined CLES in 2007 and prior to this had over five years’ consultancy experience having previously worked for private sector consultancies specialising in economic and social regeneration. Before working in consultancy, she held positions with Oxfam Scotland and as a researcher at the Scottish Parliament, specialising in the areas of social justice and enterprise and lifelong learning.
New Start staff
Clare Goff is editor of New Start, the digital magazine for making better places. She joined New Start in 2008 and took over as editor in 2012. She oversaw the relaunch of the New Start website as a standalone publication in 2013. She has been a journalist for 15 years and starting out writing about the media industry before shifting her focus to social issues, working as a freelance for the Financial Times, New Internationalist, the Independent and the Guardian before joining New Start.
Laura Symonds, Office Manager
Laura joined CLES in April 2008. She manages all aspects of the general running of the office including finance, operations duties and HR. She also coordinates with the membership base and runs the events programme.