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"Era's learning networks are an integral part of the Era developmental framework. Integrating individual and organisational learning Era provides a full range of on and off line business learning from Gateway events through to follow up support and service, providing ‘just in time’ multi-faced learning which complex change internally in organisations requires."[1]

Era Ltd. describes itself as “an innovative, not-for-profit regeneration consultancy specialising in strategy and planning, project management and business development solutions. It responds to the need to balance people, government, competitiveness and inclusion. It inspires change through: rigor in analytical work, innovation in practical strategies and solutions, effectiveness in project management and delivery."[2]

The Mezzanine project

It is part of the Mezzanine 2 consortium at 1 London Bridge, “a group of dynamic young companies” (they have been around for a decade or more) which includes the Community Action Network (CAN), Green-Works, Social Enterprise London, The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, TimeBank and WWF. Formerly it was with some of the aforementioned (and others including Demos, the Foreign Policy Centre and The Policy Network) who worked together as ‘The Mezzanine.’ As political lobbyists and venture philanthropists, think tanks and policy entrepreneurs, they were associated with the nexus of interests which facilitated the influx of big business into New Labour.

Its list of projects are funded by amongst others the European Social Fund, London Development Agency and Regional Development Agencies over a period of years. Its activities include

“the design, development, implementation, facilitation and evaluation of project management practices, management information systems, organisational structures, financial management and administration.”[3]

In "Building Community Capacity for Social Enterprise (2000-2001)", an £800K project funded by the London Development Agency, the "delivery" of a “Completed report, jointly with DEMOS, looking at the future of social enterprise” leads to the “Successful recruitment of social sector beneficiaries into Community Action Network.” These two organisations used to be across the hall from ERA and had overlapping personnel. ERA's Ian Hargreaves is a Demos trustee, married to CAN's Adele Blakebrough, and a former director of the LDA. According to the ERA document, "ERA Track Record", "Era’s membership of the Mezzanine Group provides a unique blend of capabilities and networking opportunities for new and existing clients."[4]

Other activities include developing the Tate Modern (ERA seems to have been hired as a fundraiser, yet makes no mention of the Tate's Lord Stevenson’s connections here). Other projects listed include the "HeART of Slough" and “The Creative Hub”, the “flagship building in the HeART of Slough development”, on which ERA worked as consultants. “The Creative Hub” consists of “a digital library, an 'interactive multicultural experience' and healthy living space.”

The Board

  • Chris Webb: Director, Era Ltd and Project Director, Tribal Education CTAD;
  • Anna Whyatt: Whyatt has worked on major projects including the Tate Modern and the national strategy for the Film Council. From 1981 to 1994 she was Senior Assistant Director, Industry and Estates for Leeds City Council, Chief Executive of Southwark Borough Council, Chair of the Society of Metropolitan Chief Executive and a board member of Business in the Community. She has acted as advisor to several ministers of the Blair government and was Chief Executive Economic Advisor to the Association of Metropolitan Authorities. According to Whyatt:
"Era were the originators of the Regional Policy Commission and works directly with the ODPM [Office of the Deputy Prime Minister]. It has long experience of working in national and regional development and in the development of major projects in the cultural and heritage field, including the Tate Modern and the London Thames Gateway."

She is a director of Creative Futures (funded by European Social Fund) and a Visiting Professor, University of East London;

  • Pippa Wong: Director, Era Ltd and Program Director, Tribal Education CTAD.
  • David Taylor: Chairman Era & Chairman, Phoenix Trust and Director DT Partnerships.
  • Professor John Mawson, University of Aston; Professor of Public Policy and Management, Aston Business School; Director, Economic Development, West Midlands County Council; joint Chief Executive, West Midlands Enterprise Board Limited; Chairman, West Midlands Social Economy Partnership; Professor and Head of the School of Town and Regional Planning, University of Dundee; Special Advisor to the House of Commons Environment Committee and advisory and research consultancy roles to Cabinet Office, ODPM, National Audit Office and local authority and voluntary organisations. Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute since 1981 and experience as practitioner in Scotland and West Midlands; Member, Warwick University Local Authorities Research Consortium; Chairman, West Midlands Social Economy Network; Chairman, Local Authority Research Council Initiative.
  • John Newbigin: Director of Corporate Affairs, Channel 4; Formerly Special Adviser to Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Chris Smith MP. Previous jobs have included working as an executive for David Puttnam’s film company Enigma (1992-97), Policy Adviser to Neil Kinnock, then Leader of the Labour Party (1986-92), journalist and youth worker. A trustee of the John Smith Memorial Trust which works in partnership with the British Council and the United Kingdom Ministry of Justice and is sponsored by BP, Clifford Chance, FIA Foundation for the Automobile and Society, KPMG, Royal Bank of Scotland, Scottish & Newcastle Plc, The Leadership Trust Foundation and Westland..
  • Professor John Shutt: Professor of Regional Business Development and Director of the European Regional Business & Economic Development Unit (ERBEDU), at Leeds Business School. Previously Deputy Director of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies, Manchester, the local government economic think tank, and he has worked for Sheffield and Birmingham City Councils and Central Lancashire Development Corporation in the economic development, housing and planning fields.

ERA Advisory Council

Anthony Giddens

Lobbying firms

Former lobbying firms

Further Reading

Briefing for the Hub.

Coleman, B. (2003) Gerald Frankel: New Labour's bridge to business, The Guardian, December 1.

Kreisler, H. (2001) Conversations with History: Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley. An interview with Castells.

United States General Accounting Office (September 2003) "U.S. Public Diplomacy: State Department Expands Efforts but Faces Significant Challenges." Report to the Committee on International Relations, House of Representatives.

"Changing Minds Winning Peace: A New Strategic Direction for U.S. Public Diplomacy in the Arab & Muslim World," p. 13.

United States Information Agency Alumni Association - "What public diplomacy is and is not."

Joseph Nye (January 10, 2003) "Propaganda Isn't the Way: Soft Power."

Philip Taylor - Professor of International Communications and Director of the Institute of Communication Studies at the University of Leeds. Power point presentation defining public diplomacy and propaganda.

"Public Diplomacy - the German View" - Speech by Dr Albert Spiegel, Head of the Federal Foreign Office Directorate-General for Cultural Relations and Education Policy, at the British Council Staff Conference on March 18th and 19th, 2002.

Bo Grönlund (1998) Urban Question' and 'The Rise of the Network Society' - Manuel Castells confronted.

Jan A.G.M. van Dijk The One-dimensional Network Society of Manuel Castells. This argues:

"According to Castells the IT-revolution is partly responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union together with other statisms, and for the rejuvenation of a more effective, flexible and hardened capitalism. The rise of new social movements is a response to the crisis of the nation, democracy, the traditional institutions of civil society and patriarchy in large parts of the world. Together these three processes are causing a new social structure ( a network society), a new economy (a global informational economy) and a new culture (a culture of 'real virtuality')."

Sian Best (2005) nuisance, The Guardian, January 5. This covers the direction some of millions spent in 'development' of Cardiff Bay.

"One of the eventual major beneficiaries of the £500m of public money pumped into the 3,000 acres of derelict south Cardiff by the development corporation was Associated British Ports (ABP), owners of nearly 150 acres along the waterfront, a prime development site. When he left the Commons in 1987, Edwards joined the ABP board, while Freddie Watson, the Welsh Office civil servant he later credited with the idea of the barrage, became chief executive of Grosvenor Waterside, ABP's property arm."


  1. ERA2002 Track Record
  2. ERA website, accessed October 2008
  3. Ref needed
  5. Register Entry for 1 September 2008 to 30 November 2008 APPC, accessed 28 January 2015