How To Run A City

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Series in which Shari Vahl meets some of the past, present and future stars of English local authorities who are bidding to blow the cliches and stereotypes out of the water.

Shari meets some of the trainees on the National Graduate Development Programme, set up to encourage bright graduates to do a job they might not previously have considered - working for council.

She follows Saima Khan, an ambitious and idealistic trainee in Stafford, as she goes about setting up a scheme to help council workers volunteer.

Shari also meets Natalie Howard, who swapped a glamorous career with a high street fashion retailer for a job in local government, and is trying to bring the dynamism of the business world into her new role.

On the other hand, she also meets Dominic Campbell, who was running a team of more than 20 people by the age of 26 yet left to set up a consultancy business.

So can the brightest graduates thrive in local government and help change the sector, or will they be lured away - particularly in the face of coming cuts?

Shari Vahl meets some of the young graduates bidding to change English local government.

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Series in which Shari Vahl meets some of the past, present and future stars of English local authorities who are bidding to blow the cliches and stereotypes out of the water.

Shari meets two dynamic, innovative chief executives who explode the stereotypical image of a local authority boss - Katherine Kerswell in Northamptonshire, and Sean Harriss in Bolton, who became a chief executive at 38.

With access to the inner workings at the top of both authorities, Shari explores how Harriss and Kerswell are each bringing business methods, and people, into their authorities to help drive up performance.

Shari watches Harriss joust with leading Bolton councillors and map out tactics for handling senior staff undergoing a pay review.

In Northamptonshire she asks Kerswell why, when she was so upset by her staff's lack of pride in their work, she tackled it by inviting them to 'taste the strawberry' via an online video.

But, Shari asks, are they paid too much, do they have too much power, and how well do their new methods work?

Shari Vahl meets the innovative bosses shaking up the way English local authorities work.

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Series in which Shari Vahl meets some of the past, present and future stars of English local authorities who are bidding to blow the cliches and stereotypes out of the water.

Shari meets chief executives who have left local authorities for the national stage, to find out what they have brought with them from local government, and why they left.

Sir Bob Kerslake used to run Sheffield City Council - now he runs the Homes and Communities Agency.

Walking through rainswept central London streets, he takes Shari to see an impoverished part of Pimlico which to him embodies the local causes at the heart of his national job.

Carolyn Downs, meanwhile, went from running Shropshire County Council to becoming Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice.

So how different is her new role?

Lin Homer succeeded Sir Michael Lyons as chief executive of Birmingham's huge city council.

Shari visits each of them in their current roles - Homer is now head of the UK Borders Agency, and Sir Michael is chair of the BBC Trust.

Each explains how the sometimes punishing experience of running a city has prepared them for their present work.

And Shari asks Sir Howard Bernstein, chief executive of Manchester City Council, another of the country's biggest authorities, why, even after 40 years with the same authority, he finds the prospect of working in London utterly untempting.

Shari Vahl meets chief executives who have left local authorities for the national stage.