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Toby Blume to leave Urban Forum at end of July

Departure of chief executive follows loss of government funding last year

Toby Blume
Toby Blume

Toby Blume, chief executive of the membership organisation Urban Forum, is to stand down as part of a restructure after the loss of its government funding last year.

Blume, who has been the charity’s chief executive for the past eight years, will leave at the end of July, according to a statement issued by Sal Hampson and Sally Polanski, the organisation’s joint chairs.

The statement says Caitlin McMullin, Urban Forum’s research and policy officer, has already left after two years. The charity, which works to influence government and help communities gain a greater say over decisions that affect them, will have five staff once Blume leaves.

"For the first time since the organisation was established we have no central government funding to support our core work," the statement says.

"The impact of losing our government funding cannot be overlooked and we are having to make changes to our staffing structure to reflect this."

The charity, which has more than 800 members and had an income of £432,343 in 2010/11, will continue to operate without a chief executive once Blume leaves, and will develop a "new approach", the statement says.

Blume said he had been conscious for some time that his tenure was "coming to a natural end" as he and his colleagues discussed how best to reorganise the charity.

"I have always been quite clear with trustees that a new model requires a different staff structure," he said. "We need to create a structure where members are advocating for themselves, encouraging collaboration and enabling people to do things differently and better. My staying would be something of an obstacle to that aim."

A spokeswoman for Urban Forum said that the charity hoped to announce the charity’s new operating model in the near future.

Urban Forum missed out on funding from the Office for Civil Society’s strategic partners programme when it was scaled back in 2011. It received £96,132 from the programme in 2010/11.

The charity was awarded an extra £60,000 by the department in November to help it to continue to provide policy advice.

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