Barry Quirk

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Barry Quirk CBE is Chief Executive of Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council (previously Chief Executive of Lewisham Council) and co-chaired the Design Commission's report 'Restarting Britain 2: meeting needs, saving money, humanising services, engaging citizens'.[1]


Barry Quirk has a PhD in political and social geography and is an author and regular lecturer on localism, public policy and public management.[2] According to Quirk's 2011 book, Re-imagining government: public leadership in challenging times,[3] there are three key purposes of government: the necessity of solving community problems, securing welfare and having the legitimacy to determine common good. He argues that this legitimacy comes from discussion between leaders and communities, based on five core ethical principles. These can be paraphrased as treating people according to their own wants and intentions, letting them choose for themselves, empathising with them, helping them if it is possible to do so without wasting that effort, and encouraging them to help each other through reciprocal arrangements[4] - a set of ethical principles he attributes to philosopher Iain King.[5]

He was Chief Executive at Lewisham since November 1993, and once described by Geoff Mulgan as a 'seasoned public service leader'.[6] He has worked in local government for over 35 years, with experience in five London councils. He is a leading local government chief executive nationally, involved in the improvement of public services across London and the UK.[7][8] From 2004 to 2009, Barry was appointed by Government to be the National Efficiency Champion for English local government. In 2007 he produced a landmark report for Government on the potential transfer of public assets to community groups.[9]

In 2013, he co-chaired a comprehensive manifesto for the redesign of public services in Britain.[10]

Following the June 2017 Grenfell Tower fire in North Kensington (and the resignation of the CEO of the Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council on 21 June), Quirk was seconded as CEO of KCBC to stabilise that council in the aftermath. In September 2017 he resigned from his post in Lewisham to become CEO of KCBC on a permanent basis.[11] About the Grenfell disaster, Quirk said "I think people should continue to advocate for the interests of survivors who haven’t yet been housed. I’ve got no problem with their impatience. They should be impatient. It’s terrible that we have a situation where we haven’t found properties that are suitable. A lot of that is about scarcity. But I don’t achieve anything by making impractical, infeasible demands on our own organisation."[12]


  1. ^ Barry Quirk (12 March 2013) "Local government can improve public services by hiring designers", The Guardian.
  2. ^ From the Institute for Government Website, accessible here Archived March 10, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, accessed 2014-03-10.
  3. ^ Quirk, B. 2011, 'Re-imagining government: public leadership in challenging times', published by Palgrave MacMillan, ISBN 978-0230314429
  4. ^ This summary of Barry Quirk's approach is taken from this assessment of 'Barry Quirk's Compass
  5. ^ On page 222 of Quirk, B. 2011, 'Re-imagining government: public leadership in challenging times', published by Palgrave MacMillan, ISBN 978-0230314429, Barry Quirk explains that his five principles are taken from Iain King's book How to Make Good Decisions and Be Right All the Time - see this link to a google books snippet, accessed 2014-03-10.
  6. ^ This quote is taken from the Amazon page on one of Quirk's books, accessible here (if you scroll to the bottom), accessed 2014-03-10.
  7. ^ This information is taken from the Lewisham Council website, accessible here, accessed 2014-03-10.
  8. ^ Also according to the RSA website on Barry Quirk CBE, here Archived March 10, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ According to Barry Quirk's own website (link), accessed 2014-03-10.
  10. ^ According to Design Week, accessible here
  11. ^ Anthony Barej (11 September 2017) "Lewisham chief to join RBKC permanently following Grenfell", Public Finance magazine. Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy. Retrieved 2018-06-24.
  12. ^ Pippa Crerar (9 February 2018) "Grenfell housing chief slams Theresa May's 3 week rehoming promise to survivors", The Evening Standard. Retrieved 2018-06-24.