Andrew Bibby



Andrew Bibby is a professional writer and journalist, working as an independent consultant for a number of international and national organisations, and as a regular contributor to British national newspapers and magazines. He is also the author of a number of books.

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Case study: Greenwich Leisure

This case study was originally written as teaching material for study by post-graduate students undertaking the University of East London's masters degree course in social enterprise. Important: Please note that the information contained in the case study may now no longer be fully up-to-date.

Greenwich Leisure Ltd describes itself proudly, some might say cheekily, as ‘London’s most successful social enterprise’. It was created in 1993, as a new delivery vehicle for the former leisure centres division of the London Borough of Greenwich, and since then has been operating Greenwich’s leisure centre facilities for the Council, on a ‘grant and lease’ basis. It has also gradually expanded away from this core business and now operates similar leisure service management functions for a number of other local authorities in the London area. It is structured as an industrial and provident society (the familiar legal vehicle for co-operative and community-based organisations) and describes itself as an ‘employee owned society for the benefit of the community’. It is non profit distributing, and although not a registered charity has broadly charitable objectives.

GLL can be described as ‘worker controlled’, in that the majority of Board members are employees. Fulltime staff, in exchange for handing over £25 for their share, can vote and stand in Board elections and attend the society’s AGM. The Board also includes three representatives of Greenwich council, two members of the public elected to represent the interests of leisure centre users, and one trade union representative. The strategic and operational management of the business is undertaken by the senior management team, comprising Mark Sesnan (Managing Director) and four Directors. Mark Sesnan also sits on GLL’s Board.

In terms of business indicators, GLL can boast of a very successful first few years, with turnover growing steadily from under £5m in 1993 to £11m in 2000, and an expected £20m in 2002. The organisation anticipates a further sharp increase in turnover in the years thereafter, with a projected £30m turnover for 2005.

GLL is currently engaged in drawing up a strategic plan to see it through the years from 2002 to 2007. This will inevitably take it somewhat further from its roots in Greenwich. It is also about to undertake a major reorganisation of its senior management structure, moving away quite radically from the traditional departmental hierarchies it inherited from its local government origins.

The early days

These latest developments, however, would have been far from the thoughts of those responsible in 1993 for bringing GLL into being. Indeed, somewhat ironically, the main motivation behind the move was not a principled interest in social enterprise or democratic accountability, but a desire to take advantage of a curious quirk in the business rates system.

The London Borough of Greenwich in the late 1980s and early 1990s adopted what can be called an ‘old Labour’ approach to local government, and it attempted to maintain spending and services in hopes that the better times might be round the corner (or, more precisely, that the 1992 General Election might lead to a more favourable financial regime for local government). Instead, after the Conservative government was returned, Greenwich once again faced rate capping. This was the ninth successive year in which this had taken place, and meant a particularly severe cut in the council’s budget. Because spending in education, social services and housing services was protected from the full force of these cuts, the pressure was felt particularly in departments delivering non-statutory services. Cuts of £400,000 were forecast for leisure services, which would have resulted in the closure of two or possibly three of the borough’s seven leisure centres.

Was there any alternative? Meetings attended by leading councillors and senior staff pondered the idea of establishing a not-for-profit organisation which could take over management of the leisure facilities, under the influence of, but no longer under the direct control of, the council. There was an extremely compelling financial reason for attempting this: the introduction in 1990 of the national non-domestic rates scheme removed control of business rates from local authorities but also meant that payments for relief from business rates were funded centrally by the rates ‘pool’, rather than locally. (Certain types of property, including those used by charities and non-profit making organisations, are entitled to full or partial rates relief). This complex arrangement meant in effect that Greenwich’s leisure centres could benefit from rates relief, funded from the rates ‘pool’, of around £400,000, if they were run by a non-profit organisation independent of the council. The rates relief almost exactly matched the money which the council was attempting to save in cuts.

The problem facing Greenwich, and other authorities which had also explored this route, was that the Audit Commission was ready to challenge any local authority which tried to establish this kind of trust, if the motive behind the move could be construed as being simply to benefit the council itself. But as MD Mark Sesnan puts it, "The solution dawned on Greenwich — why not let the staff set up their own ‘trust’ and then transfer the service to them?"

This was indeed what eventually happened, after discussions with the council, the local Co-operative Development Agency, the staff and the trade unions. Greenwich’s leisure centres were saved from cuts, the rates relief was obtained, and the leisure centre workers found themselves controlling their own co-operative enterprise. GLL is, nevertheless, a worker-owned organisation which was encouraged and supported through a very strongly top-down route.

To understand the full story, however, it is necessary to go back before 1993. In 1992, a year before the trust was established, Greenwich had been forced by government legislation to undertake a compulsory competitive tendering process for its leisure centres management. In the event, no external bids were received, and the existing council department took over the management, using the trading name Greenwich Leisure Management. The internal bid was nevertheless prepared in expectation of strong competitive pressure, and involved a £325,000 reduction on previous running costs (to a cost of £2.1m) and a reduction in staff numbers by forty people.

CCT also provided the incentive for a significant overhaul of staff terms and conditions. Prior to this, there had been a considerable divide between Greenwich’s most recent leisure centre, Waterfront, where traditional pay arrangements for overtime working, weekends and bank holidays had been removed in a negotiated pay deal, and the six other centres where established pay structures continued in force. There was also a quite noticeable difference in staff attitudes towards their work between Waterfront and the other venues.

After CCT, as Mark Sesnan explains, this was subject to change:

"New conditions of working were introduced. All staff were required to be fully flexible, acting up, down or sideways as required. Overtime and enhanced rates were abolished and ‘rolled-up’ pay and harmonisation between conditions of service for officers and manual staff were introduced.

"GLM prided itself on setting up a ‘lean, mean efficient team’ still operating as a council direct service and continuously looking for ways of improving services and reducing costs. For instance, the new style of working enabled GLM to reintroduce bank holiday opening across all the centres, which proved immensely popular with customers and could now be achieved without additional staff costs."

In other words, many of the changes in work organisation and employee remuneration which a newly established social enterprise trust might want to introduce had in GLL’s case already been successfully implemented before the trust was established and whilst the employees were still directly employed by the council. This could be seen to be a considerable advantage for the fledging GLL since, as Mark Sesnan candidly admits, a worker-owned structure is not necessarily the vehicle best guaranteed to bring about fundamental changes to staffing practices. Indeed, a cynic would observe that a climate of funding cuts and associated job losses provide a much easier opportunity for any management team trying to push through change.

Since 1993, GLL has extended the borough’s provision of sports and leisure facilities by opening a new leisure centre on derelict playing fields near Eltham, opening a community leisure facility in Charlton Athletic’s new west stand, and reopening the derelict open-air Lido in Charlton. It is currently discussing proposals for a major new leisure centre development in the south of the borough. It has also increased the use of existing facilities through better programming and marketing. The GreenwichCard scheme, which offers small discounts to all local residents and larger discounts for people receiving benefits, has been taken up by 130,000 people, about half the borough’s population.

As a result of these initiatives, income from till receipts has increased since 1993 from £2m to £7m. The cost to Greenwich council of subsidising its leisure facilities has fallen from over £2m to under £1m.

Structures and staff relations

The GLL Board has eighteen members, eleven of whom are directly elected employees. As already mentioned, there are also three Councillors, 2 elected customers, a trade union rep and the Managing Director.

The employee representatives are elected annually, by staff who have chosen to join the society as members and have paid for their £25 ‘share’. Only staff on permanent contracts (of whom there are currently about 600) are eligible for membership. GLL, like many leisure services businesses, also makes use of considerable numbers of sessional and casual staff, undertaking everything from aerobics instruction to bar work, but these employees are not eligible for membership.

At the end of 2000, about two-thirds of the staff were female, and one-third were male. 86% were white, 9% black and 5% from other minority ethnic groups. GLL attempts to ensure that the employee members of the Board reflect the overall make-up of the organisation’s staff in terms of gender and ethnic balance, and also in terms of seniority of status. It tries to achieve this by a two-stage voting process: after eight Directors have been elected, any obvious imbalances are pointed out to members before votes for the remaining three places are cast ("At this point usually white males withdraw from the process," Mark Sesnan says).

As we shall see, GLL no longer operates just in Greenwich and there is therefore an increasing issue of balance between the Greenwich staff and those servicing the contracts elsewhere. Contracted staff joining GLL from these other areas have the opportunity to participate as full members of the society, but only after they have agreed to move to GLL terms and conditions.

Currently about 150 members of staff (or about 25% of those eligible) are members of GLL. This is a marked shift from the situation a few years ago, when about 80% of eligible staff were members, and it primarily reflects GLL’s expansion beyond its Greenwich origins. However, Mark Sesnan also suggests that it may also be the result of a certain complacency among staff, as GLL becomes more established and successful.

He also acknowledges that staff in management positions are more likely to be active in GLL: indeed, the majority of staff members of the Board hold management positions of some kind. He adds, however, that this includes members of staff who were in relatively junior positions when GLL was established and who have linked their own career progression to that of the organisation. (The four GLL Directors who - with Mark Sesnan - make up the senior management team have undertaken not to stand for the Board).

GLL sees the low take-up of society membership as an issue to be addressed. One of its corporate strategic objectives, drawn up as part of the current strategic planning process, is to have over 51% of its fulltime workforce in membership. It proposes to achieve this through a society membership strategy, which will look at issues such as recruitment, induction, training and communication.

The two customer representatives are elected using the database of GreenwichCard holders as the constituency. The election itself is organised by Greenwich council, who also appoint the three Councillors to the Board. The trade union representative is currently from the TGWU; both Unison and GMB are also recognised by the organisation.

As well as GLL’s annual general meeting (at which the staff Board members are elected) employee-members of GLL are normally invited once a year to meet Mark Sesnan informally. Sesnan has developed the idea of holding regular breakfast meetings with groups of about 10-12 members of the society, so that in the course of the year all GLL members will have had the opportunity to talk with him. However, this tradition has broken down somewhat in recent months, as GLL management attention has focused on the task of taking on a new contract with the London Borough of Newham.

There is also a one-day conference for all contractual staff (including non-members of the society) held annually just before Christmas. This is the one occasion in the year when employees, including staff working for non-Greenwich contracts, meet together away from their normal workplaces. Typically this day includes an inspirational address and by a briefing from senior managers on the business plan for the forthcoming year. All contracted staff are expected to attend, and annual leave is not permitted.

The relationship with Greenwich council

GLL advertises its social enterprise status on its marketing material, but nevertheless it is probably the case that many users of Greenwich’s leisure facilities remain unaware that the centres are no longer directly managed by the council or operated by council employees.

In any case, the links remain close. For example, GLL still uses the council’s standard ‘’ email service for its own email addresses. Mark Sesnan describes the relationship he is seeking with the council as ‘friendly partnership’.

Greenwich council maintains ownership of its sports and leisure facilities, leasing them to GLL at a peppercorn rent, originally for a seven year period (this has since be extended for a further two years). The council has chosen to maintain responsibilities for major building maintenance, an arrangement which means that GLL does not have to put aside capital for potentially major structural repairs. There is also a VAT advantage, in that maintenance work undertaken by the council is exempt from VAT.

As well as the lease, Greenwich council currently negotiates an annual grant payment to GLL. This is designed to enable the cost of leisure facilities in the borough to be kept at a level accessible by lower-income members of the community. For 2001-2, the annual grant is £900,000.

GLL is now close to signing a new ten year contract with Greenwich council, which would take it forward from 2002.

Mark Sesnan says that other local authorities who decide to externalise management of leisure services to social trusts may choose other arrangements. "There is much debate in the industry about the relative merits of short- or long-term leases and whether or not they should be full repairing. GLL would normally seek a ten-year lease, with the council retaining building fabric and major plant maintenance responsibilities. GLL believes that this keeps future options much more fluid for both parties."

The close partnership with Greenwich council means that GLL is prepared to adapt its operations to help meet the council’s agenda. One example is GLL’s recent agreement to take over management of the Woolwich Tramshed theatre, a decision which involved it moving outside its core business area. By so doing, GLL enabled the council to ensure that a local public facility which had been struggling to stay open could continue to operate.

Other council decisions might also impinge on GLL’s business operation. This could be the case, for example, were Greenwich to decide to outsource management of other community facilities, or indeed to take a strategic decision to close some of the existing leisure centres. To this extent, some of the decisions on which GLL’s business is based are outside the direct control of the organisation’s management.

One considerable benefit for the borough which has come from the creation of GLL has been the ability of the trust to access funds not available to the Council itself. This is particularly the case for valuable Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) bids. GLL can help the council meet requirements for matched funding from private sector (ie non-council) sources. Since 1993, GLL has attracted more than £4.5m in new external investment, including SRB funding, Lottery Sports Fund money, partnership funding and Further Education Council franchise payments.

Mark Sesnan puts it like this: "When GLL was established, the agenda was saving jobs and services from cuts and closures. It is becoming apparent that the leisure trust could well be the key to investment problems and sustainable leisure services through a wide range of mechanisms and partnerships that the trust’s chameleon nature can facilitate."

Growing the business

A conventional commercial company has the profit motive to stimulate growth and to impel its management forward. Social enterprises may find that they need to set themselves other challenges.

"You’ve got to have something to drive people in a non-profit environment," Mark Sesnan says, In GLL’s case, this has included investing in staff training (the training budget is now over £300,000 a year, compared with £30,000 in pre-1993 days) and seeking accreditation under quality assurance schemes (what Sesnan calls ‘badge bashing’): GLL has achieved Investors in People status, the Chartermark, the quality standard QUEST and a host of other ‘badges’

But GLL has primarily answered its need for development and growth by looking outside its original Greenwich boundaries. Although we have considered in detail GLL’s relationship with the London Borough of Greenwich, Greenwich council is now only one of a number of clients which the organisation works for. Similar management contracts for leisure centres and facilities have been negotiated with the London Boroughs of Waltham Forest, Merton, and — most recently — Newham. GLL will also manage the main leisure centre run by Epsom and Ewell district council when it opens in January 2003.

It is these new contracts which have given GLL its impressive rate of growth in recent years. However, each new contract involves negotiating with a new set of councillors and council officers, and bringing new teams of employees previously employed directly by their councils into the fold of the GLL. This can bring challenges. In Newham, for example, a number of leisure centre staff are currently resisting changes to their established terms and conditions which GLL would like to bring in. These would see, among other things, extra payments for weekend and holiday working removed in exchange for a cash compensation payment. The Newham employees’ union Unison is supporting its members.

GLL argues that, through extending its reach elsewhere in London, it can bring greater benefits also for its customers. One plan is to develop a GreenwichCard-style ‘London Card’ scheme, which would open the leisure facilities of all four London Boroughs currently managed by GLL on a reciprocal basis to residents from the other boroughs (and would also hopefully be extended later to other parts of London).

In considering its strategic path ahead, GLL has decided to focus on London, or at least the area inside the M25, for future development. The current strategic plan looks forward to the renewal of the four existing London borough contracts, and the Epsom and Ewell contract, but in addition GLL is also hoping to extend its business by looking for management contracts with one or two further London boroughs. It is this growth on which the £30m projected income by 2005 is predicated.

Whilst some London boroughs continue to run their leisure services in-house, there are a number of social enterprise trusts undertaking similar work to GLL in other London boroughs. Indeed Merton had initially followed the social trust route, and GLL’s acquisition of the Merton contract (which had run into difficulties) involved folding the Merton trust into the GLL. It is of course conceivable that the same process could take place again, offering further opportunities for GLL to expand.

This growth makes GLL’s current Board structure, established for the Greenwich contract, look increasingly inappropriate. The intention now is to set up a number of subsidiary Boards, one each for Waltham Forest, Merton, Newham and Epsom & Ewell, to enable local councillors, local centre users and local staff the same sort of input as provided originally in Greenwich. These Boards are principally intended as forums for information sharing and consultation, although some decision making powers may be delegated to them in due course from the parent GLL Board. Changes to the composition of the main GLL Board are not, it seems, currently under discussion, though in the longer-term this must surely be an area for attention. The organisation may also want to review how staff participation in the Board is solicited: employees-members of GLL now work across a wide area of Greater London (and into Surrey), so previous arrangements for member AGMs and Board elections may no longer be so easy to operate.

GLL has also expanded in another way, by establishing a separately constituted consultancy arm, Leisure Partners. As a pioneer of the leisure trust model for leisure services management, GLL is well placed to share its expertise with others. Leisure Partners has to date worked with about twenty local authority leisure services, successfully converting their teams into trusts. In this particular consultancy niche, Leisure Partners claims about two-thirds of the market.

Since its creation in 1996, Leisure Partners has also extended its consultancy services from trust consultancy into a specialist sports consultancy. This it markets under the name Performance Management, a service offering advice on strategic sports planning and management. A third consultancy arm aims for the health and fitness market, and the company is promoting a national brand ‘Wellness’ in this area.

There is one further important area of business development which GLL has developed, the establishment of the London Leisure College (LLC). This venture is in partnership with a number of other organisations including the Greenwich Community College and Charlton Athletic as well as having links with Greenwich University. The LLC offers vocational training courses in sport, recreation, leisure and tourism from venues in the Greenwich area (including some of GLL’s managed centres). GLL’s long-term strategy is to develop the College as the London-wide industry training provider for these areas of training.

Strategic planning and management structures

It will be seen that in many respects GLL has moved a long way from its roots as a direct service organisation within Greenwich council, and that the next few years suggest that this pattern of development will continue.

In many respects, however, GLL remains structured in a very traditional local government way. Currently its management is based on the departmental model, with the four Directors who make up with Mark Sesnan the senior management team each responsible for one of four departments: operations, development, finance & administration, and human resources. Each department operates to a large extent in its own way, and there is little cross-departmental working or thematic working. The traditional hierarchical system also operates from the top down through each of the levels.

GLL is now looking at changing this fundamentally. It is proposing to create a new five-strong strategic management team, comprising the Managing Director and four directors. Below this strategic level, operational delivery would be undertaken by a number of ‘delivery teams’, each headed by a Team Leader. The relationship between Directors and Team Leaders is intended to be one of coaching and mentoring, rather than traditional line management, and in some circumstances Team leaders will work with more than one Director for different parts of their agreed task outputs. The intention is to encourage more corporate (as opposed to departmental) thinking, to allow more junior managers to take decisions themselves rather than passing issues up the management chain, and to liberate senior staff for strategic development work. This sort of management reform is closely modelled on the lead which some local authorities and public bodies have already taken.

The new responsibilities for the Directors may not be immediately be apparent from their titles, which continue to talk of Operations, Corporate Planning & Development, Finance and Human Resources. Nevertheless, Mark Sesnan is clear that their work will need to change considerably. The Finance Director, for example, will be expected among other things to develop a capital funding strategy to accompany the organisation’s growth plans and to develop exchequer services for managing the assets, quite a long way from the role of overseeing the budget of what began life as a local authority department.

Among other things, the changes will involve a considerable increase in the salaries paid to Directors, an issue which GLL’s Board might have been expected to challenge had it not understood clearly the development thinking behind the move. Three existing directors will move to take up their new posts, with their initial contracts limited to a two-year period as they seek to demonstrate their competency in these new roles.

At the same time, GLL is looking to overhaul its (again traditional) way of handling administration and to make much more use of electronic ways of working, including the development of an intranet.

It can be seen, therefore, that after eight years GLL is poised for some quite substantial changes. As part of this process, the organisation is developing a five-year Corporate Plan, to define the scope of the business, the areas of anticipated growth and development and the desired ethos for a future GLL. Interestingly, there is no suggestion that GLL intends to water down its social enterprise structures. In its ‘corporate ambitions’ for the years to 2007, GLL talks of the need to protect its non-profit distributing status, to remain as a staff owned company and to develop the existing democratic structures.


Commentary — some issues for discussion


GLL has clearly been successful in terms of its business development, demonstrating that it has both a competency in managing its core contracts and a nimbleness in reaching out to seize new business opportunities.

As with any business experiencing growth, it is interesting to assess how the organisation is responding to the new management challenges. GLL’s experience as it moves to consolidate its past growth and to position itself for the years ahead may be particularly interesting for other not-for-profit social enterprises who are also emerging from their initial establishment period and arriving at maturity.

But there is another reason why GLL should be of interest. As we have seen, GLL was a pioneer in the development of not-for-profit social enterprise trusts, a process which involved outsourcing public services previously managed directly by a public body whilst still attempting to maintain an element of social accountability and control.

The way in which public services can be delivered is an issue which the current government is trying to tackle. Having passed through an era when the Thatcherite critique of traditional local government held sway - when there was an ideological assumption that the private sector was better placed to deliver public services - we have emerged at the point where the limitations of a market-driven private sector are increasingly clear. The government’s current organisational reform of local government and the development of Best Value reviews are attempts to find a new way forward. The government’s interest in social enterprise reflects another possible solution. As Mark Sesnan has written, "GLL is one of the new ‘third way’ social enterprises being welcomed by Tony Blair".

If new types of quasi-public organisation like GLL are to be entrusted to deliver public services, there are a number of questions which immediately demand to be answered. How, if at all, are they to be accountable, if this is not to be through the traditional mechanism of elected local councillors? What is their relationship to be with local councils? To what extent should they be run entrepreneurially - and indeed do not-for-profit structures permit entrepreneurial thinking? If shareholder profit is not to be the business driver, what else can take its place?

Beyond all this too is a broader issue of what we can call the culture of public service. Historically, many in local government embraced the idea of a public service ethos, and to a greater or lesser extent had a concomitant commitment to their work. However in more recent years poor management and disaffected staff, particularly in London, have combined to give the idea of public service a very bad name. So any new mechanisms for delivering public services, including the idea of using vehicles such as GLL, also need to tackle this issue of culture.

Taking this last point, GLL has to a large extent has looked to the private sector for a model of successful customer service. As the most recent annual report puts it:

"We pride ourselves on having high standards in our customer service and we seek to employ people who share our values. Our business is customer driven, our role is to ensure that our customers enjoy themselves and come back time and again. To do this, we have to encourage a positive and helpful attitude in all our staff."

GLL has used a number of stratagems to change the work culture it inherited in Greenwich, and is trying similar tactics in the other authority areas it is now working in. GLL’s emphasis on staff training and on its quest for quality assurance accreditation are two techniques it has adopted.

As we have seen, where possible GLL has also changed employment terms and conditions to give much greater flexibility in working arrangements. Former extra payments for weekend and holiday working have been bought out through compensation payments. As a consequence Mark Sesnan claims that, unlike the situation formerly, Greenwich leisure facilities are not now subject to last-minute closure due to staff shortages.

Through a process of negotiation and agreement, white-collar staff have been put on the same employment conditions as manual workers, a process which involved harmonising the standard hours of work upwards from 35 to 39 hours a week. There have been some other changes (GLL now pays a quarterly pay bonus, for example). However in many respects employees are still on recognisably local government terms and conditions, and remain eligible for the local authority superannuation scheme. What is different is that pay and conditions are no longer subject to local government collective bargaining, a fact which does not encourage Unison to be particularly supportive of GLL’s proposed changes.

How important in all this is the fact that GLL is, to a large extent, an employee-owned organisation? As we have seen, eleven of GLL’s eighteen Board members are directly elected by employee-members. By all accounts, these elections are strongly contested each year, suggesting a healthy democratic life. On the other hand, GLL is now facing a situation where three-quarters of its contracted employees are not members (and there are many hundreds of casual staff who are not even eligible for membership also on GLL’s payroll). GLL is surely right to identify this as a situation requiring remedial action. It will be interesting to see what practical steps it adopts to attempt to bring the membership rate up to the desired 51%+.

The GLL Board members in many respects have the same relationship to GLL’s senior managers as local councillors have with their senior officers. Practices vary between local authorities, with some councils strongly member-led and others officer-led. Using this parlance, GLL would be described as officer-led. Indeed the new structure reforms make the senior management team’s strategic role (as opposed to operational role) even more clear than in the past.

Local government does not necessarily encourage entrepreneurial behaviour. That GLL has demonstrated an entrepreneurial flair in developing its business may be down chiefly to the particular individuals involved, and particularly to the role played by the managing director. Under the new structure, the directors will have to embrace, to an increasing degree, forms of strategic leadership more often found in the private sector. If they fail to rise to this challenge, the organisation’s strategic aims for development and growth will inevitably be in jeopardy.

But if the strategic leadership of the organisation is in the hands of the management team, what is the role of the Board? GLL is right to claim that, quite apart from the important issues of accountability and democracy, its social enterprise status gives it a potential commercial advantage. However if it is to maximise this potential it needs to ensure that the Board remains a vibrant part of the organisation with real power and authority, and not simply a talking shop. Ideally social enterprises should be seeking a relationship between Board members and their senior staff which is at the same time both supportive and where necessary challenging. **Arguably the present arrangement where GLL Board members serve one year terms may make it harder for members to achieve the level of expertise and knowledge necessary to make a useful contribution.

** They are annually re-elected, but may serve up to five consecutive years. Many Board members hit the five year mark, so this point is debatable.

In any case, GLL’s business trajectory away from its south-east London roots is likely in due course to focus attention on its current Board structure and on employee-member democracy. GLL will almost certainly need to give some attention to these issues during the years covered by its forthcoming Corporate Plan.

Some might want to argue that, because accountability can be harder to achieve across a larger geographical area, social enterprise trusts should be content to remain local — or in other words that GLL has been wrong to wander so far from home. But that overlooks the imperative for growth and development which all successful organisations exhibit. The task is not necessarily to expect social enterprise trusts to remain small or locally-based, but to explore how their particular advantages can be maintained and developed as they grow upwards and outwards.

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