About us

About Us

Central London Forward (CLF) is the strategic sub-regional partnership for Central London covering the local authorities of Camden, the City of London, Hackney, Haringey, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth and Westminster.

Established in 2007, CLF exists to advocate and support the collective interests of its membership through the provision of strategic policy advice, research, advocacy and programme management.

Our goal is to improve the lives of our residents by working together to drive inclusive growth within the Central London area, to ensure our resident’s access the skills, jobs, homes, and support required to benefit from Central London’s dynamic economy.

Our membership is made up of eight member boroughs (Camden, the City of London, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Southwark, Wandsworth and Westminster) joined by four associate member boroughs (Hackney, Haringey, Lewisham and Tower Hamlets) for our work on employment and skills.

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Members

Board

Ravi Govindia (Chair)

Councillor Ravi Govindia is the Chair of Central London Forward and leader of Wandsworth Council. Ravi has served the authority as a Conservative councillor since 1982. During his local government career Ravi has specialised in the fields of planning, housing, economic development and regeneration.

Ravi's achievements include the redevelopment of Wandsworth's industrial riverside and the transformation of Nine Elms on the South Bank. This regeneration programme is underpinned with a £1bn Government guarantee for the Northern Line Extension and includes sites earmarked for the new US and Dutch Embassies.

Peter John (Deputy Chair)

Cllr Peter John OBE has been the leader of Southwark council since May 2010, and is portfolio lead for Central London Forward on employment and skills.

He was born in Weston-super-Mare and attended his local comprehensive school, before going on to study law at the University of London. After graduating in 1988 he became a barrister.

He was elected as a councillor for South Camberwell Ward in 2002 and after serving as group chief whip became leader of Southwark Labour in 2004.

Nickie Aiken

Councillor Nickie Aiken is the leader of City of Westminster Council, and a member of the CLF Employment and Skills Board.

Prior to becoming leader in 2017, Councillor Aiken’s Cabinet roles have included Children and Young People, Parking, Community Protection and Premises Management.

During her time as a Cabinet Member, Cllr Aiken has been responsible for the ‘Your Choice’ programme, a scheme working to decrease youth and gang violence in Westminster. As well as the launch of ‘Breaking the Silence’, Westminster’s acclaimed domestic abuse strategy, she was also instrumental in overseeing the move to a Tri-borough arrangement for Children’s Services which was the first of its kind in the UK.

Elizabeth Campbell

Elizabeth Campbell was elected Leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in July 2017, having been elected to the Redcliffe ward in 2006.

Elizabeth previously held the cabinet post for families and children’s services since 2013, and before this the cabinet post for education services and libraries.

Georgia Gould

Georgia Gould is the leader of Camden council since May 2017.

Georgia previously held the position of cabinet member for young people, adult social care and health.

Georgia has been a councillor for the Kentish Town ward since 2010.

Catherine McGuinness

Catherine McGuinness is the Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee at the City of London Corporation, and a member of the CLF Employment and Skills Board.

Catherine is a specialist in financial law, and was for several years a partner in a City law firm advising a number of international financial institutions, headed the London legal department of a major European bank, and as a consultant in the financial sector.

On the City of London Corporation she has particular interest in arts and culture, education, open spaces. Catherine is a member of the governing body for The City Academy, Hackney, which is co-sponsored by the City and by KPMG, as well as the board of the Barbican Centre.

Lib Peck

Councillor Lib Peck been the leader of Lambeth council since 2012, and a councillor for the Thornton ward since 2001.

Lib studied history at the University of Manchester and has worked for a peace organisation, for Justice, an eminent UK human rights organisation, and served on the board of the Prisoners of Conscience Trust.

Lib is a strong advocate of women’s rights and human rights, a champion women’s involvement in politics, and a strong proponent of the London Living Wage where she has worked to ensure that Lambeth became one of the first councils to pay it to all of their employees.

Richard Watts

Councillor Richard Watts is leader of Islington Council and has represented the Tollington Ward in the north of Islington since 2006.

Previously, Richard served as Executive Member for Children and Families from May 2010 and Executive Member for Finance and Performance from May 2013 until becoming Council Leader in October 2013.

Prior to being a full-time member of the Council Executive Richard ran the Children's Food Campaign, a national campaign to improve children's diets.

Steve Bullock

Sir Steve Bullock was elected as the Lewisham’s first directly elected Mayor in May 2002 and is now in his fourth term of office.

Immediately prior to becoming Mayor he was serving as Chair of University Hospital Lewisham NHS Trust.

Steve’s priorities for Lewisham include creating the conditions in which people can fulfil their potential and in particular, to provide great learning environments for young people, and making sure that the borough gains the maximum benefit from its wider development.

Philip Glanville

Philip Glanville was elected Mayor of Hackney in September 2016, becoming the borough's second directly elected Mayor.

Philip was previously a councillor in Hoxton for ten years, and spent three years as Cabinet Member for Housing before becoming Deputy Mayor in 2016.

As Mayor, Philip has committed the Council to doubling the number of council homes built from 2018, and for Hackney to become the first borough in London to build 500 Living Rent homes - where no-one pays more than a third of their income in rent.

Claire Kober

Cllr Claire Kober is the leader of Haringey Council. Claire was elected to the Seven Sisters ward in Haringey in 2006, and has served as Leader of the council in 2008.

Claire’s priorities have been working towards making Haringey the greenest borough through a 40% reduction in carbon emissions; renovating the borough’s schools; building a new community school in the heart of Wood Green; regenerating Haringey through schemes such as Haringey Heartlands; improving children’s services; improving housing, and supporting local businesses. Claire has also worked in a variety of roles in the voluntary sector and is Chair of London Councils, which brings together each of the capital’s 33 boroughs to lobby for fairer funding and a better quality of life for Londoners.

John Biggs

Mayor John Biggs is the directly elected Mayor for Tower Hamlets, having become Mayor in 2015.

John is a former member of the London Assembly, where he represented the City and East constituency from 2000 until 2016. He is also former leader of Tower Hamlets London Borough Council.

John’s priorities are building council homes to give local families in Tower Hamlets the decent, affordable homes they need, and helping people to secure employment and improve their household incomes.

Previously, he has worked as a financial analyst in the City of London, and as director of a political pressure group.

Team

Diarmid Swainson, Director

Diarmid is the Director of CLF and leads our work across programmes and policy development as well as leading CLF’s work to secure further devolution for Central London and London boroughs.

Diarmid has worked in local and central government in a range of policy, performance and stakeholder management roles.

Before joining CLF in May 2017 Diarmid was a Deputy Director in the Cities & Local Growth Unit in DCLG and BEIS working on devolving powers and funding to local areas through City Deals, Devolution Deals and Local Growth Deals.

Jo Asphall, Head of Programmes

Joanne Asphall leads the commissioning strategy for new employment programmes.

Joanne joined CLF in July 2015 and gained her experience while leading Welfare reform services for disadvantaged communities across West Midlands, Greater Manchester and Merseyside.

Joanne is currently responsible for leading the commissioning for Work and Health programme and integrating the Working Capital programme across the 8 Central London Forward boroughs.

Bill Davies, Head of Policy

Bill Davies leads on policy development, covering employment, housing, tax and skills at Central London Forward.

Before joining CLF, Bill worked as a Senior Research Fellow for the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), leading on housing policy and welfare-to-work, and previously lectured on public policy at a number of universities.

Bill has a PhD for analysing the development of UK welfare-to-work programmes.

Karen Azaadi, Programme Manager

Karen has worked within the welfare to work sector for the last 12 years. Primarily focused on commissioning and programme management of European Social Fund (ESF) projects for both adult and youth provision.

Karen is experienced in designing and implementing small specialist voluntary-sector based programmes and large pan-London programmes.

Karen has specialist insight into strategic and frontline delivery, as well as establishing detailed performance management tools and reporting structures for quick identification of programme weakness, risk management and solution implementation.