Obituary of Lord Sandy Bruce-Lockhart by Peter Gilroy
Sandy Bruce-Lockhart was a true reformer of local government and public services and devoted enormous time and energy to Kent Council during the eight years he was leader. He always took a strong interest in those who were disadvantaged and spent much time with me, when he was leader and I was director of social services, visiting clients and seeing services at first-hand, including out-of-hours services.
This had a profound effect on his thinking and proved to be the catalyst for Sandy to develop and champion Kent’s supporting independence policies and programmes. These policies had a major impact on Kent, including reducing the number of children in care and increasing the number of vulnerable adults and older people living independently in their own homes.
Sandy made a real connection between the economy, employment and education and the positive impact this had on social care services. With Sandy’s support and vision, the savings we made on reducing the number of children in public care (which amounted to around £7 million) were invested in preventive services and again, made a real difference to people’s lives.
This was all about his strategic approach to public welfare reform and expenditure and, through Sandy, Kent developed a much more effective relationship with central government that enabled us to deliver better services. Kent was the first to pilot this under a public service agreement (now local area agreements). His strategic approach had a significant impact on local government as a whole through his chairmanship of the Local Government Association.
With the largest social services department in the country at the time, Kent had significant asylum issues in the late 1990s and I will never forget his personal support as we worked through the issues. His commitment was outstanding.
Sandy was committed to innovation and had the strength of character, the belief and courage to take risks and support a number of innovations in Kent that have since become core business. These included telehealth, workforce planning, staff care and international links. He was also an early supporter of Gateways and Kent TV, both of which Kent has received national and international acclaim for. All these innovations have led to better services for Kent and a legacy that continues.
Sandy was also a personal friend. He was inspirational and gave such credibility to local government and such commitment to Kent that he and his legacy will never be forgotten. I was privileged to work with him and Kent was privileged to have him as a champion.
Peter Gilroy is chief executive of Kent Council