Design Council’s Tony Burton redundant after six months as director of policy and communications

The Design Council’s director of policy and communications Tony Burton has been made redundant, having completed just six months in the role.

Tony Burton
Tony Burton

The Design Council’s Director of Policy & Communications Tony Burton has been made redundant, having completed just six months in the role.

According to Burton and the Design Council, it was felt there was duplication between the roles of Burton and incoming chief executive John Mathers.

‘I have enjoyed my all too brief immersion in the design world and am a convert to the power of design thinking’, says Burton.   Inevitably, I am disappointed by the way things have unfolded, having been head-hunted for the role there as Director of Policy & Communications just six months ago.’

He adds, ‘I hope the Design Council (including Cabe) staff succeed in establishing the organisation on an independent and sustainable footing.’

Burton’s duties will now be carried out by Design Council chief operating officer Madeline Denmead  in the short term, until Mathers moves to a full-time role at the end of October.

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  • Mary November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I don’t know Tony Burton but this seems very strange. Someone is appointed “headhunted” and then made redundant 6 months later? The board of the Design Council should have a long hard look at themselves how they have treated him. They should never of “headhunted” if they knew they were going to appoint a CEO!!!!

  • Robert James November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I feel for Tony Burton – he’s a good man. Ousted already by John Mathers coming in. Although Mathers has an impressive list of companies on his CV, in truth all the companies he’s worked at have all fared better after he’s left. Just look at the state of the once great Holmes & Marchant right now! I really fear for the Design Council with this appointment – I hope they realise their mistake sooner rather than later.

  • mark November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Design Council continuing its tradition of Directors disappearing. Looks like another fallout from the catastrophic Kester. Shame for Tony Burton: there is life outside the DC!

  • mark November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Design Council should not have employed another CEO. Its structure is in need of radical haul and its still far too large and cumbersome. I doubt it will survive for too much longer. It should have been abolished as part of the quango review. Instead its lingering on after the pointless Temple “review” – hardly the most robust and objective analysis theres ever been!

  • mark November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    In reply to anonymous 10 Sep 859PM: the Board are aware of the history of directors departing early at the Design Council. By my calculation in the last 2 years, 6 Directors have left the Design Council. Plus Kester, though that should have happened years earlier. The current Board of Trustees, the former Council, and the Design Council’s paymaster the Department for Business were all aware. Its a waste of public money. Incompetently managed and not connected to the real world. One assumes the Trustees are wealthy enough to absorb the liability from their failures.

  • TOM November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    If DC can do without a Policy Director with new Chief Exec, surely it can can get rid of its COO. Go to be duplication with those roles.

  • Maxine Horn November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    The BIS £4 million a year ‘transitional grant’ will be coming to an end in 2013 – so other sources of public sector grants need to be secured & fast.

    Otherwise the DC (and to some degree it already is) will be providing design services and programmes direct to private and public sector in direct competition with the design sector.

  • philip johnson November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Such a desperate shame to see what’s become of the Design Council and why has Design Week never taken a critical look at what has happened to this organisation?

    It’s not about budget cuts or charitable status – it should never come to this – the Design Council should have focused on what it should have been doing and promoting design and its effective use throughout the business community, to government and in all stages of education.

    Sympathies to Tony Burton who, by all accounts was doing a good job. How long before the next departure?

  • Tom November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    In reply to anonymous at 417pm and 447pm: there are no public sector grants left. The idea was that the DC would obtain revenue from the market. That will put in competition with the private sector. This is a result of the fudged and indulgent Temple “review” which was rigged, poorly executed and tried to keep a DC-lite. If the DC has any role going forward it is an advisory group focused on policy. However this now probably too late. BIS should pull the rip-cord by withdrawing it’s funding and thereby close the DC down.

  • Mark November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    This all begs the question: when will Martin temple resign??

  • mark November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Why have 3 comments been removed: DC can’t take the heat and complained??? Truth hurts.

  • Maxine Horn November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Reply to 11 Sep 2012, 10.01pm

    The Temple Review was a DC instigated review (self-serving) that caused much confusion as it ran concurrently with the formal BIS review.

    Think smoke & mirrors –

    Temple was a Board Trustee at the time, so hardly ‘objective’ and his thank you for his self-serving report was the appointment to DC Chairmanship!

    Nice work if you can get it.

    Very few designers (or anyone in fact) has the time to look into what was occuring and even those that did participate got confused between BIS formal review and DC own instigated review.

    All a bit of a farce really, designed to confuse and most of all designed to avoid closure and secure public sector transitional funds.

    Design sector does need a voice and it does have a fundamental role to play in innovation that business and government need to be assured of.

    The DC could have / should have played that role effectively and engaged with others. But they had their own-omnipotent agenda to serve.

  • eve kendal November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    The Design Council has served itself well for years basing its performance on self appraisals ie Temple Review which was carried out by the chair and inviting comment from its trustees and friends inside and outside of government. Taking on board Cabe gave it transitional funding in addition to its own pay off as a quango – smart eco move sustainability and recycling of their jobs. According to design council for evey £1 spent on design the turnover increases by £225 what a pity the £15m (at least) was not given to businesses to invest in design as they would see an immediate increase of £33.75m in turnover. From the comments made by others on the new CEO appointment this may help speed the demise which is long overdue having escaped by the skin of their teeth in the bonfire of the quangos so well done whoever was responsible for the CEO recruitment and commiserations to Burton.

  • November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Trouble is that the design Council is a dull and largely irrelevant organisation.

    In my 28 years as an industry professional I have never been to an event, or received a piece of literature from them that gets me excited. Trust me, behind their hands the good and the great of design have sat along side me at various ‘breakfast briefings’ wondering what on earth is being discussed.

    Too much talk and pages of words and not enough pictures, not enough understanding of what they do by design buyers to care that they exist.

    I too remember when the DC was an exciting showcase environment for creativity back in the 80’s, why has it become a dull quango?

    I reckon Tony should be relieved that he got the Heave Ho.

  • kieran bennett November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    what a weird ill thought situation ,to put this experienced man thro,

  • J WILDASH November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Shame, Tony was a great find in setting up Civic Voice. What is the DC thinking!

  • David Bartholomew November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Does an organisation of this size really need a COO and a CEO?

  • Michael Dawes November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Don’t know about the internal affairs of the Design Council but do know about Tony. He is a tireless asset to any organisation. He will not be out of office for long.

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