Martin Swales has served as Chief Executive of South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council since 2010. Working with the Leader of the Council and Elected Members, he has led the Council through far reaching change with a relentless focus on resident priorities to improve the provision of public services; investing in town centres, education, housing and urban regeneration, whilst driving generation changing economic growth to raise prosperity and employment in communities.
In October 2017 South Tyneside Council was recognised, by an externally appointed Local Government Association Corporate Peer Challenge, as a "High Performing Council with many outstanding features". The review described South Tyneside as, "leading the way in transforming services and outcomes..." and recommended the Council "use this experience to influence the future shaping of Local Government...". The Corporate Peer Challenge acknowledged "the inspirational and longstanding political and managerial leadership provided by the Leader and Chief Executive" as a core strength and a key ingredient to the successful delivery of the Council's ambitions.
In November 2017 an Ofsted inspection of South Tyneside Council's Children's Services and Local Safeguarding Children's Board reported that the services provided to children, young people and families are "Good", with the Adoption service identified as "Outstanding". Inspectors concluded that, "the pace of change is impressive" and that "senior leaders in South Tyneside are ambitious and have been effective in securing swift improvements to the quality of services for children and families". As a result, the Department for Education invited South Tyneside Council to join their 'Partners in Practice' Sector Led Improvement Programme, to support other local authorities' Children's Services improvement journey, sharing innovative practice and informing national policy.
Economic growth and regeneration underpin the Council's vision for a prosperous South Tyneside and Martin has initiated and led extensive economic regeneration projects in both the local area and North East region. In partnership with Sunderland City Council, Martin continues to drive the development and implementation of the IAMP, an International Advanced Manufacturing Park and one of the North East's most significant economic growth projects. Creating over 5,200 new, skilled jobs for the region in the first phase, IAMP attracted Government's 'National Significant Infrastructure Project' status, the first UK employment project nationally to achieve this.
Regionally, Martin is Principal Adviser to Newcastle International AirportBoard, advising the seven Local Authorities as 51% shareholders and managing the relationship with 49% shareholder AMP Global Capital. South Tyneside Council is the Administering Authority for the Tyne and Wear Pension Fund. As Chief Executive, Martin has Lead Officer responsibility for the £8.4bn Fund and has supported the establishment of the Border to Coast Pension Partnership, to oversee the investment of c.£43bn pension assets.
Martin is Head of Paid Service for the North East Combined Authority (NECA), representing Durham County Council, Gateshead MBC, South Tyneside MBC and Sunderland City Council, and Chair of the Chief Executives Group for the Association for North East Councils (ANEC), representing the 12 Councils of the North East and Tees Valley.
Nationally, Martin is President of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (SOLACE). Elected in January 2019 for a two-year term, Martin represents Local Government Chief Executives with Central Government, business and the media. Prior to becoming President, Martin served as Economic Development and Housing Spokesperson for six years.
Martin represents the North East region as one of the nine local authority chief executives from across England that are providing a support network to the Minister of Housing, Communities and Local Government in the work to prepare for the UK leaving the European Union.
Martin also plays a lead role in the North East relationship with Department for International Trade, working with the LEP in the development of Northern Powerhouse.