Rotten to the Core

In addition to the operation of the Common Purpose Effect in Rotherham MBC and Nottingham Councils are there any additional shared characteristics that link these Public Bodies together? UK Column research teams believe that the answer to this question is a loud yes!

What are core cities and do they link to UN Agenda 21?

The Core Cities Group is a self-selected and self-financed collaborative advocacy group of large regional cities. The Core Cities Group has wide ranging interests, encompassing transport and connectivity, innovation and business support, skills and employment, sustainable communities, culture and creative industries, climate change, finance and industry, and governance. The Core Cities website proclaims that "we are a united voice for the importance of our cities in delivering our country’s full economic potential, creating more jobs and improving people’s lives". It also states that "Leadership across the Cities takes in all three major political parties. Whilst coordinated in each City by the local authority, the wider Core Cities partnership takes in other public, private and community sector interests and agencies across each cities wider economies".

These are the same type of cross sector partnerships that we uncovered in both Rotherham and Nottingham and are those promoted within the United Nations Agenda 21 document.

A Government website reveals that "the Cities Policy Unit was created in August 2011. It is made up of civil servants and staff seconded from local government, think tanks and the private sector. It works jointly with the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and the Department for Communities and Local Government and across Whitehall. The goal of the Cities Policy Unit is to work with both cities and government to help cities create new ideas and turn the ideas into successful plans".

We also learned that "The Localism Act 2011 introduced the Core Cities Amendment. This allows local councils to make the case for being given new powers to promote economic growth and set their own distinct policies".

Agenda 21 is being implemented away from the glare of public scrutiny under the 'Big Society' banner. The Localism Act aims to make the aims of the Big Society a reality. It sets out a programme of change which aims to transfer power from central government to local councils, communities and individuals on many issues that directly affect their lives. But just how embedded in local decision making positions are the Common Purpose operatives who are networked to allies in Government Departments and even Parliament itself?

Chris Murray is the Director of the Core Cities Group. We can reveal that 'during 2005 Chris was seconded to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to establish the Academy for Sustainable Communities'. He has worked in education, community work and as a psychiatric social worker, was Lead Advisor to the Arts Council of England on regeneration and sustainable communities, ran a working group for the Department of Culture Media and Sport on the future of the Creative Economy, and was for several years a Trustee of a public arts charity'.

Which Cities are Core Cities?

Core cities include the following: Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield, (Glasgow & Cardiff joined 2014). In the interests of brevity we shall only be examining a brief snapshop of four of these Core Cities within this article. We asked: Is the Common Purpose Effect operating across these Core Cities?


The Sheffield City Region comprises the nine local authority areas of Barnsley, Bassetlaw, Bolsover, Chesterfield, Derbyshire Dales, Doncaster, North East Derbyshire, Rotherham and Sheffield.

In the previous edition we drew attention to the fact that the Common Purpose Effect was evident in the public / private sector partnerships prevalent in Rotherham. In particular we identified the Chief Executive, Martin Kimber, and the then Strategic Director of Children and Young People's Services, Joyce Thacker, as being Common Purpose operatives.

The following are also known to have been operating in Sheffield City Council.

Dr Sonia Sharp was Director of Children's Services at Rotherham MBC from 2005 until 2008. Sharpe, a psychologist, took over the position of Head of Children & Young People's Services in the Common Purpose dominated Sheffield City Council in 2008. In March 2012 Sheffield City Council announced that Dr Sonia Sharpe had been head-hunted for a top job in Australia and would be taking up a role leading on services for young people in the state of Victoria. In July 2010 Rotherham MBC had responded to a Freedom of Information request that Dr. Sonia Sharpe had attended a Common Purpose Course.

Bob Kerslake was appointed as Head of the Civil Service in January 2012 and remained until the Cabinet Reshuffle on the 15th of July 2014. He is currently Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government. In our previous article 'Dark Actors Playing Games' (October 2010) we revealed that 'Maude and Cameron’s Cabinet Office are engaged in a secretive dialogue with Middleton to achieve a “Culture Change’ in the Top 200 civil servants using the “Common Purpose model.” Kerslake was previously Chief Executive at Sheffield City Council and is a Common Purpose graduate.  Kerslake is now a trustee at the Leadership Centre for Local Government which ' works closely with the Local Government Association, which collectively aims to support, promote and improve local government'.

We can also report that the networked Common Purpose graduates in Sheffield now have their own dedicated paged in the LinkedIn directory.

We have previously published a case study demonstrating that the Common Purpose Effect is also operating throughout Nottingham.

The following individual provides a further link between both the Nottingham and Sheffield Regions. He also enables us to link the Core Cities project to the United Nations Agenda 21 Sustainable Cities programme and the Globally interconnected Smart Cities project.

Andy Nolan is Director of Sustainability at The University of Nottingham. Previously he held a number of roles with Sheffield City Council. These included - Lead - Sustainable Cities Programme, Director of Sustainable Development and Head of Environmental Strategy. He has led the development of the City's Sustainable Cities programme in partnership with The University of Sheffield in the creation of an Urban Institute. Work included development of the low carbon economic strategy focusing on infrastructure building on leading research in low carbon technologies, advanced manufacturing, engineering, design, management and sciences. Key areas included the City Deal, Core Cities, City Region, Government, EU Structural Funds. Nolan is a member of the following groups: Friends of the Earth, ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability), International Eco-Cities forum, SMART Cities & City 2.0, the Smart Cities Project.

According to his LinkedIn profile "Core Cities are a unique and united local authority voice to promote the role of our cities in driving economic growth. Running alongside the regular Core Cities Leaders, Chief Executives and Policy officers meetings, a number of additional independent working groups bring expert representatives from the Core Cities together to tackle common issues in specific policy areas". Nolan has attended the Common Purpose Sheffield Focus Programme.


Birmingham's children’s services department has been rated ‘inadequate’ for the past five years and was branded a 'national disgrace' by the Government’s chief inspector of schools last October. Stopping child sexual exploitation in Birmingham will be one of the biggest challenges facing child protection workers this year, council chiefs have revealed.

In November last year Stephen Rimmer, the Home Office’s director general of crime and policing, started a two-year secondment at Birmingham City Council as the region’s strategic leader on action against CSE. Rimmer has appeared in the Common Purpose video discussing Collaboration. In that video he appeared alongside: Peter Fahy, Chief Constable,Greater Manchester Police; Bob Kerslake, Homes & Communities Agency (formerly Sheffield City Council); Lord David Puttnam (Unicef UK President  2002 - 2009) & others.

Yvonne Mosquito is the Acting Police and Crime Commissioner, West Midlands. She was elected as a councillor to Birmingham City Council in 1996 and has served as Executive Member of the Birmingham City Council Cabinet, Chair of the Labour Group and Deputy Chief Whip. She has also Chaired the West Midlands Immigration Strategic Board. She is a Common Purpose Matrix Graduate 1993.

Dave Thompson QPM LLB (Hons) Deputy Chief Constable West Midlands Police is a Common Purpose Matrix Graduate 2000.


In the latest Manchester grooming scandal campaigners fear that the true number of victims may exceed the 1,400 victims identified in the report on child sexual exploitation in Rotherham over a 16-year-period. The figures come after Ofsted accused Manchester’s children’s services of inadequacy and said that “child sexual exploitation processes are not well embedded in social care teams”.

Afzal Khan has been an elected Labour Councillor since 2000. He has served as lead member for Race Equality and Assistant Executive Member for Finance and Personnel, before his current role, executive member for Children’s Services. Khan, a qualified solicitor, acted as Lord Mayor of Manchester 2005-6 and Vice President of World Mayors for Peace. He is currently an advisor to the Greater Manchester Police & Crime Commissioner. He is also MEP for the North West Region. Afzal Khan is a Common Purpose Matrix Graduate 2001.

Virginia Tandy is the former Director of Culture at Manchester City Council and a Common Purpose 20:20 Graduate. Tandy joined the council in 1998 from the Cornerhouse theatre and was Originally employed in the role of director of Manchester city galleries where she oversaw the £35m expansion and refurbishment of Manchester Art Gallery.  She was then charged with 'defining the city’s cultural ambition and champion culture’s importance to the city’s economy'. She left in 2011, became a Trustee of Curious Minds and was reappointed, by Prime Minister David Cameron (Common Purpose), as a Board Trustee with the National Heritage Memorial Fund/Heritage Lottery Fund in 2012.

Eamonn Boylan has his own webpage on the Common Purpose website. He was appointed Chief Executive at Stockport Council in January 2010. He was previously Deputy Chief Executive of Manchester City Council (2002-2008).  He played a key role in the development of the Housing Market Renewal Programme, the Northern Way Growth Strategy and, through his work with the Core Cities Group and the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, in the emerging policy framework for city regions. Boylan is also  lead chief executive for the Greater Manchester Low Carbon Hub (GMLCH). The GMLCH is working towards a carbon reduction target of 48% in Greater Manchester by 2020. He is a Common Purpose Trustee and a Common Purpose Matrix Graduate 1992.

Sir Peter Fahy, Greater Manchester area Chief Constable since 2008,  has appeared in a Common Purpose promotional video "What makes for successful collaboration?" He is also a member of UNCIVPOL- United Nations Civilian Police.  Fahy has recently been served with criminal and gross misconduct notices by watchdog the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). These concern allegations that an investigation into a suspected sex offender was poorly handled. The probe also concerns the disposal of body parts from Harold Shipman’s victims. The IPCC has launched ten inquiries into alleged mishandling of sexual assault and rape complaints by Greater Manchester Police in the past 2 years.

The recently published Coffey report into CSE in Greater Manchester gave an example where they were "shocked to discover that the Crown Prosecution Service threw out a child sexual exploitation case on the basis that a victim wore cropped tops". In response the Chief Crown prosecutor is reported as stating "We would be extremely concerned if these comments were given as reasons for deciding not to take a case to court, but when setting out decision making it is also the duty of the prosecutor to anticipate likely angles that might be taken by the defence in their cross-examination of the victim, which could include references as it is alleged were made here.”

Nazir Afzal OBE was the Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP) for the North West Area from 2011 - 2015. He recently resigned despite being cleared of improper conduct after he was accused of sending a text message to a defendant. Afzal is 'a tutor for Common Purpose and the Young Foundations who deliver programmes for the country’s 'emerging leaders'. Recently Nazir developed a storyline for a DVD  aimed at children and young people. Nazir was asked to help develop the storyline for the DVD, which tackles topics such as extremism and faith, bullying and youth crime:  the LGBT Hate Crime Pack Project partners included: the Ministry of Justice, Stonewall and Gendered Intelligence. Here a link to Classroom activities and guidance for teachers.


The Bristol Green Capital Partnership is a free membership organisation whose aim is to make Bristol “a low carbon city with a high quality of life for all”. Launched in 2007, the Partnership has now grown to over 700 members all of whom have shown their commitment by signing "the Pledge". Two possible signatories probably being: Liz Zeidler, Co-Chair at Bristol Green Capital Partnership (Common Purpose) and Mareike Schmidt, Strategic Energy Programme Manager at Bristol City Council (Common Purpose).

On 19th March 2014 the Common Purpose website revealed that "over 60 leaders from key public, private and not for profit organisations in the area gathered at a Common Purpose graduate event on Thursday 6th March at Armada House Conferencing and Events to discuss what Bristol's new role as European Green Capital 2015 means for the city as a place, as well as for its businesses, employment, communities and transport systems." Did Bristol Council taxpayers ever have a vote on this?

Delayed Police communications may have led to more child abuse

In July 2012 investigators in Toronto gave details of 2,345 Britons accused of accessing child abuse images to the Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre (Ceop), but it was only in November 2013 that the information was finally passed on to police, when Ceop was taken into the newly-created National Crime Agency (NCA).

In early October of this year the head of the NCA Keith Bristow apologised for any harm caused to children as a result of the delays in the information being passed to police whilst giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee.

Keith Bristow was formerly the Chief Constable of Warwickshire Police and is chair of the G8 Law Enforcement Group. In 2010 Bristow attended Nottingham Police as part of an "expert team of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of an attempt to work out how to improve performance". He is the 1st Director-General of the National Crime Agency and took up his office in October 2013. Bristow is a Common Purpose Matrix Graduate Birmingham 1999.


Whilst David Cameron boasted that there will be “no stone unturned” during the inquiry into allegations of historic sex abuse in Westminster and other institutions past events suggest the exact opposite.

Neither the Jay report into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham nor the Francis report into the failures in Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust made any reference to the influence of Common Purpose in our institutions. We suspect that one stone that will remain firmly rooted to the ground will be that labelled 'Common Purpose'.