Councillor Sir Merrick Cockell was elected as the Chairman of the LGA in June 2011. From April 2000 to May 2013, Sir Merrick served as Leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, having been an elected councillor since 1986. The Council has been a top performer under various inspection regimes and receives excellent feedback in national resident satisfaction surveys. Its performance as an education authority has been praised by Ofsted as "outstanding".
Sir Merrick was appointed an Audit Commissioner from July 2009 until June 2011, sitting on the Board of the Audit Commission and in October 2010 he was appointed to the Board of the London Pension Fund Authority. He was appointed Deputy Chairman in April this year. He is currently Chairman of the think-tank Localis and was Chairman of the Conservative Councilors Association and on the Conservative Party Board from February 2008 until February 2011. Sir Merrick was Chairman of London Councils from 2006 until 2010, leading London's local government, campaigning for fair funding for public services in London and making the case for more devolution from central to local government. Other positions include fellow of the British American Project and president of the Chelsea Theatre. He is Honorary Squadron Colonel of 41 (PLK) Signals Squadron.
Sir Merrick is married with two daughters. He ran an international trading company for 23 years and now devotes his time to public service. He was knighted in 2010 for services to local government.
Councillor David Sparks is Leader of Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council. He is also Vice Chair of the LGA and Leader of the Labour Group and a Member of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party.
Born in Warrington in 1948 and educated in Warrington and Widnes, David went on to further education and gained a BA in Politics at Lancaster University. He also gained a Diploma in Careers Guidance from Manchester Polytechnic and a Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety from Bilston Community College.
He was employed as a Career Adviser in Birmingham from 1972 to 2009. From 1977 to 1986, David served as Chair of the West Midlands County Council. He was also Deputy Leader and Chair of Strategic Planning and Vice-Chair of the West Midlands Regional Assembly. From 1987 to 1997 he served as a National Board Member on the Business in the Community and Groundwork Foundation. From 1999 to 2003, he served as a Board Member of Advantage West Midlands RDA, and from 1999 to 2012 he has been the Chair of Dudley Zoo and Castle.
David's passions include rugby league – he was a qualified rugby league referee and is an avid follower of Warrington Wolves RLC. He also supports Everton FC and is a keen collector of second-hand books.
Gary was first elected to South Holland District Council in a by-election in June 2001. He was re-elected in 2003 and elected Leader of South Holland at the Council's Annual Meeting that year.
A former Chairman of the District Councils' Network, Gary chaired the LGA Environment and Housing Board for two years before becoming Conservative Group Leader and Vice-Chairman of the LGA in June 2011.
He is Lead Member for the LGA's 'New Ways of Working' programme and leads the Members' Group on Shared Chief Executives.
Gary was a member of the practitioners' group that drew up the advisory proposals for the Government's new National Planning Policy Framework. His own council was a partner in the first shared management team to work across two regional boundaries.
Gerald was elected to Portsmouth City Council in 2003 and became Leader in 2004. He has had a long career in local government, working as a social worker before being elected to New Forest District Council in 1991.
Over the past 19 years as an elected member, he has served as Deputy Leader of West Berkshire County Council and Mayor of Newbury as well as Chair of Social Services, Chair of Environment, Executive Member for Health, Housing and Social Care and Executive Member with responsibility for IT, Asset Management, HR, Revenues and benefits. Gerald became Vice-Chairman of the LGA and Leader of the Liberal Democrats in 2011.
He is currently a member of the Ministerial Advisory Group on the role of Local Authorities in Education, and a member of the Backbench Parliamentary Committee on Local Government (Liberal Democrat).
Marianne serves on Lincolnshire County Council and North Kesteven District Council, where she sits on the Planning Committee. She is the Independent Group Leader in both authorities and is particularly active on environmental issues, health and social care and education.
Her most recent election vote was the highest in Lincolnshire. Marianne was elected as Leader of the LGA Independent Group in June 2011 and is an LGA Leadership Board Champion on Adult Social Care. Marianne's education was spread between South Africa and London.
She is currently a Non-Executive Director for NHS Lincolnshire Primary Care Trust, a Governor of the University of Lincoln and Director of Biosearch, organising expeditions to remote Third World regions to carry out field research for conservation management. Marianne was a runner-up in the Grantham Business Person of the Year Award in 2003.