Meet the Board

Councillor Neal Brookes

Councillor Neal Brookes was elected as ward councillor for the Hawes Side area of Blackpool in 2019 and became Cabinet Member for housing and welfare reform shortly after. Cabinet responsibilities included homelessness and the development of social and affordable housing for Blackpool.

The availability of reasonably priced property in Blackpool has led to a surge of outside investment in the town which provides a legacy of absentee landlords simply seeking a return on investments and not interested in the development of good quality accommodation for local residents. The structure of the benefit system has meant that the level of housing benefit has set the benchmark for rents in Blackpool and not the quality of the accommodation provided. Councillor Brookes has an ambition to disrupt this link and to ensure that good quality affordable accommodation is available for those in need rather than simply any accommodation.

Councillor Brookes currently has Cabinet responsibility for enforcement, public safety, highways and transport. He feels very fortunate to be chair of both Blackpool Coastal Housing and Blackpool Housing Company and can see the benefits that both companies are having on the local housing market. Councillor Brookes is keen to see through the initiatives made in his previous cabinet role for the provision of increasing numbers of new build, affordable social housing and also to continue to intervene in the private rented sector in Blackpool to ensure that Blackpool Housing Company through its customer facing brand ‘My Blackpool Home’ continue to be the landlord of choice for local people.

Councillor Jim Hobson

Councillor Hobson is the ward Councillor for the Bloomfield area, this covers much of Central Drive, Lytham Road and the surrounding areas. He is currently the Cabinet Member of Children’s Social Care and Schools and before this he served as Cabinet Member for Climate Change and the Environment. He was also the chair of the Blackpool Council Adult Social Care and Health Scrutiny Committee that looks at the performance of health care providers and commissioners in the borough and has previously sat on the Council’s Audit, Licensing and Public Protection Committees. Councillor Hobson has been a Civil Servant working for a Central Government Executive Agency for the last seventeen years and manages a small specialist team. Prior to this he worked as a Surveyor and sales person for an environmental services company. He studied at Lancaster University and has a degree in Biochemistry and a diploma in Land Registration from the University of Law. Councillor Hobson has a vision for Blackpool as a modern, forward looking town with a bustling tourism industry, where both visitors and locals feel valued and safe. He is therefore delighted to join the board of Blackpool Housing Company to help shape part of this ambitious plan which is to ensure good quality housing is available for local residents. With the investment Blackpool Housing Company are making into poor quality existing homes and redundant buildings he has a vision that My Blackpool Home will become the number one landlord of choice with their high quality offer.

Derek Robertson

Councillor Robertson joins the board with 22 years armed forces experience, 14 years working in transport and has been a local hotelier for 12 years. He has been a Blackpool Councillor for 2 years and prior to this he worked with Councillor Tony Lee on improving his local area. Councillor Robertson has a clear vision for Blackpool’s future; as a vibrant centre for tourism with the added benefit of commercial investment that can sustain jobs with career prospects. He believes that Blackpool Housing Company can contribute towards achieving this by providing a good range of quality accommodation which is supported with a high level of management. This in turn will provide families with a safe and integrated community for a better quality of life for the residents of Blackpool.

Shaun Finegan

Shaun has 20 years’ experience working for Housing Associations across the North of England and is currently employed by Accent Group Ltd, a National Housing Association, as Regional Housing Director for the North West. Areas of expertise include housing management, strategic planning, governance and housing policy. Excited to be part of the Blackpool Housing Company and looking forward to seeing the difference we can make to Blackpool in the coming years.

Stephen Lingard

Ste is an experienced economic development and research professional who specialises in business planning, performance management and impact evaluation. He is a skilled researcher and writer, having led the business planning and research teams at Liverpool Vision and Regenerate Pennine Lancashire and served as a ministerial speechwriter. He has also worked on the development and delivery of major regeneration programmes, and is an accomplished speaker and presenter. He has
a strong personal interest in cultural and heritage matters, and is a performer and writer.

John Lord OBE

After starting work as a funeral director in 1981, Jon moved across to work in Bolton Housing Department in 1987. Having carried out a number of roles within Bolton since then, he became CEO of Bolton at Home in 2009. Jon is Chair of the Greater Manchester Housing Partnership and sits on a number of regional and national bodies focused on housing and issues for northern areas. He has experience, interest and knowledge around private sector housing and regeneration, which he brings to his Board role in Blackpool. Jon was awarded an OBE in 2008 for services to housing.

Ron Bell OBE

Ron was born and raised in the hotel industry in Blackpool and except for nine years which he served in the Royal Marines; Blackpool has always been his home. After leaving the Marines he spent many years in senior positions with blue chip companies within the banking and finance sector, primarily in Sales and Marketing but also in Training and Operations. After leaving the Finance sector he successfully ran his own management consultancy and investment portfolio. Ron is passionate about Blackpool and is currently the and a member of the board of Blackpool Operating Company Ltd and Lumen Housing. He has also served on the board of BF&W College, the Blackpool BID, the IMB at Kirkham Prison and was the first Chairman of Blackpool Coastal Housing. As part of his community work, he is President of the BF&W Credit Union ( Clevr Money), a Magistrate, as well as being a former Councillor, Chairman of Fylde Ex-Service Liaison Committee and Chairman of the Royal Marines Association, a national charity with 16000 members. Ron believes that Blackpool Housing Company can play a massively important role in Blackpool’s regeneration through the provision of high-quality homes that will not only raise standards, by setting the benchmark for the rental sector, but will also serve to nurture aspiration and community cohesion and particularly so in the more depressed areas of the town.