Jean Stretton, Leader of Oldham Council

Jean Stretton became the Leader of Oldham Council on January 27, 2016.

She succeeded Jim McMahon in the post having served as Deputy Leader since June 2014.

Jean has lived in Hollinwood since 1989 and was first elected as a ward councillor for the area in 2003.

She has held several Cabinet Member posts covering a wide range of areas that include housing, health and wellbeing, town centres, culture and tourism.

In 2013, Cllr Stretton was named ‘Community Champion of the Year’ at the Councillor Achievement Awards organised by the LGiU for what judges called her “inspiring work to help her community in Oldham recover following a gas explosion” in Shaw.

Jean is also chair of Oldham Credit Union, a governor at Oasis Academy, Limehurst Primary and has served on the Contour Estate Board since 2003. She is also a keen supporter of Oldham Foodbank.

Dr Carolyn Wilkins OBE

Carolyn is currently Chief Executive at Oldham Council where she has taken forward a significant programme of growth and reform through the Cooperative agenda.

She undertakes the lead chief executive role for Greater Manchester on a range of issues including Fairness, Equalities and Cohesion which includes the Inclusive Growth agenda, delivering the Complex Dependency programme as part of wider public sector reform, and the development of a Greater Manchester Leadership Framework.

She has significant public sector experience including time as a Chief Executive at Rossendale Borough Council where she led an improvement programme which saw the authority re-categorised from ‘poor’ to ‘good’, and rated in the top three councils to work for in Times Best Companies.

Carolyn is a member of the 2016 Guardian Public Leaders Board and the MJ Editorial Board. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Carolyn has held a wide range of other roles in her career including as a Non-Executive Director for Society of Local Authority Chief Executive (SOLACE), as governor at both Oldham and Accrington & Rossendale Colleges and as an Associate Fellow at Warwick Business School.

Carolyn has an MA in Literature with the Open University and a Masters in Public Administration from Warwick Business School.  Her Doctorate in Business Administration focused on the relationship between trust and control in organisations during times of significant change.

Carolyn was awarded an OBE in June 2016 for her services to local government. 

Tom Stannard, Director of Economy and Skills

Tom Stannard is a regeneration, economic development and skills specialist, currently Director of Economy and Skills at Oldham Council in Greater Manchester, one of the ten large GM local authorities. Oldham Council serves around 230,000 residents, 5,500+ sectorally diverse businesses in a local economy with GVA of over £3BN p/a, in an area with relatively high levels of diversity and economic deprivation. Tom leads a wide range of the Council’s economic regeneration programmes and services working across Greater Manchester.  These include:

  • Strategic lead on economic growth
  • Regeneration and capital projects
  • Property partnerships and investment
  • Asset management, estates and facilities management
  • Housing strategy, delivery and partnerships
  • Planning - development control and strategic planning
  • Employment support including the Get Oldham Working Programme
  • Business engagement, enterprise growth and inward investment,
  • Post-16 skills and lifelong learning services and strategies,
  • Town centre management and markets Representing Oldham across Greater Manchester, including implementing the GM Strategic Economic Plan
  • A wide range of corporate responsibilities

Tom was previously Deputy Chief Executive at the Learning and Work Institute (formerly NIACE), a UK charity running large scale R&D programmes and public affairs campaigns in the skills, lifelong learning and employment support sectors. His remit included policy & strategy, UK-wide public affairs/government relations, communications/PR, marketing, and commercial activities. He also managed the Director for Wales, Cardiff office and Welsh Government public affairs activity, and was Deputy CE across UK operations.

His previous 15 years in local government included high performing Councils across the UK - Blackburn with Darwen (Lancashire), the London Borough of Hounslow, and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in a variety of policy and regeneration roles.  In 2011 he was voted "one to watch" in the Local Government Chronicle's 50 most influential UK Local Government figures, securing 2011 "Council of the Year" rating for Blackburn through low council tax and consistent improvement in public satisfaction.

Tom is a Member of the UK Institute of Economic Development (MIED), a Board Director and Trustee of the Manchester-based Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), and in 2016 was appointed deputy national spokesperson on Economic Growth and Housing for SOLACE (Society of Local Authority Chief Executives).