Experience

Public affairs

Over 30 years in politics gives me a thorough understanding of how decisions are made, how to influence people, and how to get one’s message across.

I have taken an interest in lifelong learning, local and regional government, the planning process, high streets, and various aspects of foreign policy. As a councillor, I had responsibilities for economic development, business support and adult learning.

As an MP I sat on the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, scrutinising the National Planning Policy Framework, and many other council related issues. I was also chair of the All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group, and held positions on APPGs for Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Kashmir.

Some of the work we undertook at Vision Twentyone had a public affairs dimension to it and my role at Downtown in Business involves some political engagement

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"I've worked with Simon, on and off, for nearly 30 years. His political knowledge and insight are exceptionally good. He knows his way around government, at every level, and this combines with his real-life business experience. He's one of those who can understand policy and its implications because he connects with real people and understands their situation.

Frank McKenna, CEO and Group Chairman, Downtown in Business

Research

My degree in sociology was heavily reliant upon learning and using qualitative and quantitative research methods. This stood me in good stead for the Research Coordinator role at Bolton Bury Training and Enterprise Council which involved commissioning business and employment surveys, running consultation events, and conducting statistical research.

From there I went agency side, as a research executive for two years, before joining The Big Issue in the North, as their Research Coordinator. Here we conducted some very impactful homelessness research around healthcare, social services, and drug misuse.

At Vision Twentyone, the research and communications consultancy I co-founded in the 1990s, we regularly conducted surveys, opinion polls and focus groups for a range of clients, such as local authorities, health bodies, planning consultancies, and the likes of League Against Cruel Sports, Hope Not Hate, The Labour Party, and Unite the Union.

We developed an in-house Computer Aided Telephone Interviewing (CATI) unit and outsourced some of this work to Egypt. This combined with developing innovative qualitative methods, including being one of the first organisations to spearhead the use of citizens’ juries, in the UK.

Sectors concentrated upon included housing, homelessness, planning, politics, regeneration, service development, satisfaction surveys, charities, campaigns, and more.

We also supported the management of the independent North West Drugs Treatment Commission.

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"I taught Simon a wide variety of research methods during his time at Lancaster. He has made excellent use of these over subsequent years, whilst also expanding his range of competencies. From studies on why people vote for the British National Party, through to innovative research around homelessness, he has always considered what combination of techniques generated the greatest insight. He is an excellent communicator and has an unusual capacity to listen to other perspectives. He is also very quick in his abilities to get research finished and to summarise his findings clearly and succinctly."

Roger Penn, Professor of Sociology​, Queen's University, Belfast​

Communications

Writing for publications, from specialist trade press – such as New Start and Regeneration and Renewal magazines – through to the nationals – such as the Mail on Sunday, The Sun, and Daily Telegraph – and for online publishers – such as the Huffington Post – has been something I have been doing for many years.

This has combined with regular report and bid writing, producing copy for marketing collateral, and writing media releases. I also co-authored the book ‘Smile for the Camera: The Double Life of Cyril Smith.’

Broadcast has also been a strong feature of my experience in politics, regularly appearing on programmes, such as the BBC’s Today Programme, BBC Breakfast, Sky News, Talk Radio, LBC Radio, and many regional programmes.

I now write regular blogs for Downtown in Business, advise companies on their communications and marketing strategies, and contribute to delivering these.

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“Mr Danczuk's courageous book has opened up a stinking can of worms and it seems clear that only a proper judicial investigation can uncover the whole unsavoury truth.”

Daily Mail, 14th April 2014.