Quentin Baker, legal chief at Cambridgeshire County Council, announces surprise resignation

Quentin Baker

Quentin Baker - Credit: Archant

The director of legal services at Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire County Councils has surprised colleagues by announcing his resignation.

Quentin Baker has been the director of legal services at LGSS, the shared services platform set up provide support to both county councils.

Mr Baker would normally have attended yesterday’s full council meeting at Shire Hall, Cambridge, but councillors had been told privately of his departure. Only when his resignation as a director of LGSS Law Ltd was spotted tonight on the Companies House website did the council issue a brief statement of confirmation.

“After nine years with Cambridgeshire County Council and then LGSS Group and LGSS Law, including three as executive director of LGSS Law during which the firm was established and set on firm footings for the future, Quentin Baker has decided that the time is right for him to take on a new challenge,” said the statement.

“We would like to thank Quentin for his commitment and contribution across all his roles, which have been valued by his clients, and wish him all the best in his next endeavour.”

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Mr Baker is also shown as a director of This Land Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cambridgeshire County Council that has been set up to build up to 2,000 homes over the next 10 years.

Tonight the county council was unable to answer a question as to whether Mr Baker would retain a role in the company on behalf of the council.

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Councillors have been told the company – with the county council as sole share holder- has 25 sites in mind that will be developed for a mixture of market sale/rent and social rent/share ownership schemes.

An officers’ report shared with councillors before Christmas says the revenue will help plug some of the gaps left by “unprecedented financial pressures” as government funding dries up but demand for services is on the increase.

Mr Baker has described LGSS as “a law firm, run by professionals who not only understand the ethos of their public sector clients but mirror them and their experiences. It is a source of great pride that we are one of the first in the country to be trading as a local authority law firm”.

In an article for the Local Government Chronicle three years ago he said LGSS “has 75 client organisations in the public and not-for-profit sectors, which include other local authorities, charities, foundation trusts and schools.

“Previously, as a legal team within LGSS, the shared service venture owned by Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire CCs, our potential client base was very limited.

“By forming a legal services company fully approved by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, we can trade with anybody, although our focus is limited to organisations within the public and not-for-profit sectors where we have proven expertise. For example, we can now approach housing associations, which we wouldn’t have been able to do before.”

Later in the article he added that “ultimately, I would like to see an organisation of about 200 professionals offering a comprehensive legal service to hundreds of clients across Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire”.

In recent months Cambridgeshire County Council has been questioned repeatedly by Andrew Rowson, himself a specialist in accountancy, to answer a series of wide ranging questions about the role of LGSS, its structures and finances.

By coincidence he was at Tuesday’s council meeting using the open session of the council to quiz council leader Steve Count on aspects of LGSS.

Former county councillor Mike Mason has also questioned the running of LGSS and following the Government’s intervention into the running of Northamptonshire County Council called for Cambridgeshire “to re-examine the policy of creating or extending shared service arrangements”.

On the website of Central Bedfordshire Council, Quentin Baker is shown as being the council’s monitoring officer. It is not clear whether he will retain that role.

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