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Published 30th Jun 2011

Les Southerton and Chris Smith

A new chairman has been appointed to the helm of Middlesbrough’s Local Strategic Partnership following the departure of local government stalwart Les Southerton.

Les will be replaced by Chris Smith, the managing director of social housing provider Erimus Housing.

Closely involved in the work of the Partnership since 2001, Les was appointed chairman in July, 2006.

He has nearly 40 years of planning and regeneration experience in the Tees Valley area and spent a spell as Middlesbrough’s Director of Regeneration.

Les was also Chief Executive of the Middlesbrough City Challenge Pacemaker Initiative and between 1997 and 2007 he was Chief Executive of the Middlesbrough Town Centre Regeneration Company.

Following retirement in 2007 he worked on the Stockton Middlesbrough Initiative three days a week.

Les is also Chair of the Tees Valley Dance and Saltburn Artists projects and is a director of Nature’s World.

He is replaced by Chris Smith, Managing Director of Middlesbrough-based Erimus Housing. Chris joined the company in 2004 at the point of stock transfer as Director of Regeneration.

In 2008 when Erimus became part of the Fabrick Group alongside Tees Valley Housing, Chris became Managing Director, responsible for the overall performance of the organisation.

Previously, Chris worked for Sunderland Council and Sunderland Housing Group in the fields of development, regeneration, private sector housing and policy and strategy development.

Admitting she had a hard act to follow, Chris said: “Les will be a hard act to follow but he has left the partnership in really good shape.

“I am looking forward to taking the partnership forward in helping to improve life in Middlesbrough.”

Useful links

Middlesbrough Partnership



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