Spotlight on…

Nicola de Bruin, Solicitor, High Peak Borough Council

In each edition of ConsortEM, we shine a light on a member to show the variety of roles within the consortium. This month, Nicola provides an insight into working as a solicitor in a local council.

How long have you been with High Peak Borough Council?

I have been with High Peak Borough Council for 16 years.

Prior to this, I worked at Bolsover District Council and at Ashfield District Council.

What does your role entail?

I deal mainly with contentious matters across planning, environmental health, housing, licensing and anything else with a regulatory element.

Since 2008, High Peak Borough Council has been in a strategic alliance with Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and so my role entails work for both authorities.

To whom do you report? What is the structure of your team?

I am part of a small team comprising just five people. There is me, the monitoring officer, the monitoring officer’s deputy – who is my manager – and two legal executives who deal mainly with non-contentious land, property and contractual work.

What are the most pressing issues for you at the moment?

With such a small team, the most pressing and challenging issue continues to be trying to juggle the volume of work.

Everyone in the team wants to do the best job they can, which can be difficult at times.

What regulatory issues are on the horizon?

I am guessing most people would have no choice but to say Brexit, but at the moment it is business as usual and I am trying not to think about the potential impact this is going to have on my work.

We are also moving swiftly towards the Single Justice Procedure in the Magistrates Court. If it brings an end to sitting around for hours waiting for a defendant who never arrives, then it cannot come too soon.

How does High Peak Borough Council and Staffordshire Moorlands District Council compare with other places you have worked?

It is mostly the same but with nicer scenery!

What law would you like to see changed?

I would like to see the Town and Country Planning Act and the National Planning Policy Framework changed.

In short, I do not believe in planning by numbers and I think, in years to come, we as a nation will come to regret the loss of green fields that this policy has brought about.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Do not worry about things you cannot change.

Finally, two truths and one lie in any order.

  • I once hurt my back cutting the lawn with a kitchen knife.
  • I hitch-hiked to Berlin.
  • I qualified as a nurse.