BusinessCompany NewsPublic services achievement: David Leather

Public services achievement: David Leather

By winning the Public Services Achievement Award, David Leather, finance director and deputy chief executive of the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games, demonstrated that having access to large amounts of public money was not a recipe for scandal and controversy.

Leather, also the joint winner of the Accountancy Age Finance Director of the Year Award, ensured the world’s third biggest sporting event was an unqualified sporting and financial success, with public funds being wisely invested in excellent and sustainable sporting venues, and the event itself enthusiastically supported by the British public.

In terms of this funding, KPMG-trained Leather and his finance team had access to more than £170m from a number of sources including £43.5m from Manchester city council and £119.4m from Sport England.

The bulk of this money – £110m – was invested in building the flagship City of Manchester Stadium, a 38,000 all-seater venue which, as Leather predicted, was sold out for every day of athletic competition and for the hugely popular Rugby Sevens.

Leather ensured no white elephants would haunt the games, bearing in mind the Millennium Dome and Wembley fiascos. The City of Manchester stadium is currently being converted into a football stadium for local premiership side Manchester City, which will take occupation of it in the 2003/2004 season. So efficient was Leather in his planning that work on adding the extra 10,000 seats and putting in a football pitch began just days after the games ended.

And the other venues, such as the state-of-the-art cycling Velodrome, bowling green, hockey pitches and national shooting centre are all being used after the games. The aquatics centre, in particular, has proved a huge hit both as a training venue and as a leisure facility for the public, while the games themselves have helped generate 6,000 new jobs for the city and regenerate previously neglected and deteriorating areas.

During the event itself, Leather took no chances that any public monies would be wasted, employing the services of external auditor, Ernst & Young, independent auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers and the public accounts watchdog, the National Audit Office, to ensure complete transparency and accountability.

In this responsible use of public money, David Leather demonstrated all the qualities the judging panel was after. He showed imagination and financial skill, and achieved best value for service users as he satisfied the needs of internal and external customers.

Judges called Leather’s work ‘innovative’ and ‘a remarkable achievement’ while the indisputable success of the Commonwealth Games as a sporting showpiece was evidenced by the sparkling opening and closing ceremonies, packed grandstands and outstanding athletic competition.

One judge said: ‘He’s responsible for a remarkable achievement in a short period of time.’ Another added: ‘He deserves a lot of personal credit. The Commonwealth Games were a fantastic achievement thanks in no small part to the FD.’

Other shortlisted candidates:

  • Botswana Accountancy College
  • Riverside Community NHS Trust

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