Craig Bennett – Chair of the Independent Challenge Group
Craig Bennett is the Chief Executive of the Wildlife Trusts and has been described as “one of the country’s top environmental campaigners”. He was formerly CEO of Friends of the Earth, where he refocussed the organisation to empower communities to take action on the climate and ecological crises.
From 2007 to 2010, Craig was Deputy Director at the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) and was also Director of The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change (CLG).
Alongside 20 years’ experience of designing and contributing to executive education and leadership programmes at numerous universities and business schools around the world, Craig has a long history of providing advice and constructive challenge direct to CEOs and company boards. As well as chairing Anglian Water’s Independent Challenge Group, Craig is also a member of the Innovation Lab for Marks and Spencer plc. He was previously a member of the Net Positive Board for Kingfisher plc. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM).
Claire Higgins – Chief Executive, Cross Keys Homes
Since November 2014, Claire has been Chief Executive of Cross Keys Homes in Peterborough, the region’s leading providers of affordable homes for rent and sale. Before joining Cross Keys Homes in 2004, she spent seven years as Executive Regional Director for Housing 21, a national housing and care provider for older people.
Claire also worked for Circle 33 Housing Trust in London as Managing Director of their home ownership arm, looking after their commercial and non-charitable activity.
Claire is the Vice Chair of the Board of PlaceShapers – a national network of housing organisations – and is involved with a number of local partner organisations. She chairs the Safer Peterborough Partnership, the city’s multi-agency crime and disorder reduction partnership, as well as being Chair of City College Peterborough and Chair of Trustees for Peterborough Keys Academy Trust. In 2021, Claire was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list for services to housing.
Gill Holmes – Consumer Advocate, CCW
Gill Holmes joined CCW (the voice of the water consumer) in 2015. She is a Solicitor who built her career in the Court’s Service practising criminal and family law before becoming a Senior Manager for the Service in Bedfordshire. As part of that role, Gill focused on the delivery of customer services, working closely with other agencies and with customer groups to raise standards for all those using the courts.
Gill’s work with CCW enables her to continue that focus on the customer and she remains committed to the provision of efficient, affordable and excellent customer service for all. In addition to her work with CCW, Gill currently acts as an Independent Person for six local authorities assisting with standards issues. Gill is an Anglian Water customer, having lived and worked in the region for many years, and is looking forward to continuing to represent customer interests on the Independent Challenge Group.
Peter Holt – Chief Executive, Uttlesford District Council
Peter Holt moved to Essex and joined Uttlesford District Council as Chief Executive in October 2021, after three years at South Northamptonshire Council, where he was Assistant Chief Executive.
Peter’s career has taken him from working in Parliament in his 20s through six years in the NHS, four years in senior civilian roles in policing, and in director roles in councils since 2006, both in-house and as an interim, consultant and peer reviewer, helping authorities deliver specific projects and address a range of challenges and crises. His work has taken him all over the UK, and he has lived and worked in London, Dorset, Cornwall, Bristol, Oxford, Northants, Powys, Belfast, Cheshire, Newcastle and Paisley.
Having started his career in communication roles, Peter has broadened his skillset into general management. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and also a Chartered Practitioner; he completed a law degree with the Open University, and is currently approaching the end of his studies for an MBA, also in his spare time. Uniquely for a council Chief Executive, Peter has also served as a council leader in a London borough, retiring from politics in his early 30s to focus instead on his professional career.
Jo Lancaster - former Managing Director at Huntingdonshire District Council
Jo Lancaster served as Managing Director at Hunts District Council for ten years, from 2013 to 2023. She began her career in local government as a technician in the planning department at Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, and subsequently became a qualified town planner, working in many councils within the West Midlands in both rural and urban environments. Joanne is a strong supporter of good quality, efficient public services and is proud to be a governor at the local regional college.
Dr Paul Metcalfe – Managing Director of PJM Economics
Paul Metcalfe joins the ICG as an expert advisor on economics, regulation and customer research. He has completed over 100 studies focussed on the design and analysis of customer surveys to explore customers’ priorities, preferences and willingness to pay within a regulatory context. This includes work for several water companies during three previous price reviews to support their business plans, as well as similar work in energy, transport and postal services sectors, amongst others.
Paul has also contributed to best practice industry guidelines including the UK Water Industry Research study ‘Carrying out Willingness to Pay Surveys’, and he managed the National Water Environment Benefits Study research, which focussed on national valuation of water quality improvements. Paul has a PhD in Environmental Economics from the London School of Economics and is a certified member of the Market Research Society.
Dr Nathan Richardson – Head of Policy, WaterWise
Nathan Richardson has more than 30 years’ experience in the water sector in research, consultancy, industry and policy roles. Most of this has been in the Anglian region where he lives with his family. His career has focussed on developing solutions to water scarcity, pollution and flood risk pressures.
Nathan is a past chair of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) East Anglian branch, representing more than 2,000 water management professionals in the region. He also sits on the Blueprint for Water NGO coalition which brings together 16 environmental organisations, representing more than 6 million members, with an interest in water matters.
Justin Tilley – Manager, West Anglia Team, Natural England
Justin Tilley has worked for Natural England and predecessor bodies for the best part of 20 years, carrying out a number of frontline positions related to ecology and nature conservation. Much of this time has been spent on initiatives to enhance the natural environment for wildlife and people in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Northants, Essex and Hertfordshire.
More recently, Justin has moved into leadership roles in local delivery, including areas such as sustainable development, national nature reserves, the creation of the Nature Recovery Network, and an array of topics related to our water environment. This wide remit includes looking for where Natural England can both deliver their statutory remit, but also shape and influence others to do more for the natural environment through effective partnership working.
Justin is also a Trustee of the Langdyke Countryside Trust, a conservation charity operating across the ‘John Clare Countryside’ west of Peterborough, and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM).
Sarah Thomas - Policy Manager, CCW
Having previously worked for the Environment Agency and Ofwat, CCW’s Policy Manager Sarah Thomas brings over 25 years’ experience in the water and environmental sectors to Anglian Water’s ICG.
Sarah currently leads CCW’s work on water resource management plans, ensuring companies focus on long-term resilience and engaging with customers around the key issues, especially those that will become more important in the future because of the effects of climate change. For the last five years, Sarah has led Water Matters, CCW’s annual research tracking customers’ views on water sector performance, value for money and their preferences, drawing out usable insight into changing views on the sector. She has also led on developer issues, liaison with new appointees and CCW’s approach to the Water Framework Directive.
At the Environment Agency and Ofwat, she worked on water efficiency and developing the competitive regime, as well as resolving customer complaints and disputes.
Richard Tunnicliffe - Regional Director, CBI East of England
Richard Tunnicliffe joined the CBI in 1997 after completing his degree in applied biology at the University of Hertfordshire and completed his MBA in 2005.
Richard worked initially in the CBI headquarters with responsibility for a wide range of membership activities, including recruitment and regional relations. He moved to the CBI East of England office in July 2000, where he had responsibility for the whole range of CBI activities in the East. He was appointed Regional Director in July 2005. This role includes regular liaison with senior executives in CBI member companies and lobbying on a regional level on issues such as skills, transport, broadband, housing and aviation.
Victoria Williams – Water Company Account Manager, Environment Agency
Victoria took on the role of Water Company Account Manager for the Environment Agency in June 2023. She leads on matters relating to Anglian Water and Severn Trent.
Victoria has 20 years’ experience in the Environment Agency (EA) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), developing and delivering programmes and national policy – from implementing the Water Act 2003, abstraction regulation, review of charge schemes, water company management plans and drought plans.
Since 2012, Victoria has been at the forefront of planning and responding to drought events, leading on EA drought planning and ensuring strategic management through the National Drought Group and Defra emergency planning forums. Victoria was the EA’s Strategic Drought Manager in the droughts of 2019 and 2022, leading relationships with internal and external players to promote and enhance drought risk management and demand management, identifying opportunities in stakeholder and academic networks to build capacity in evidence and multi-sector drought initiatives.
Find out more about the Independent Challenge Group