As Scotland’s Regeneration Forum sails on towards its 30th anniversary in 2022, SURF’s longstanding chief executive Andy Milne, will be standing down in March next year. He will do so after 18 years in what he describes as ‘the best job in Scotland’.

SURF Chair, Kate Wimpress has thanked Andy for helping build SURF to the successful and influential forum it is today, working for everyone involved with regenerating Scotland’s poorest communities.

Since Andy joined SURF in 2003, its cross sector membership has grown by over 500% and its turnover has tripled. From its 1992 start, as a largely west coast and urban focused forum, it now actively promotes better understanding and practical cooperation between all regeneration partners, sectors and perspectives, across all of Scotland.

SURF currently has over 300 members and over 3000 individual contacts in its extensive network of practitioners, policy makers and academics. The prestigious SURF Awards, and SURF’s innovative Alliance for Action, Shared Learning and Sector Connector services, have helped to promote and inform more collaborative and successful regeneration in Scotland’s communities, towns, cities and regions.

SURF’s USP is its ability to inclusively and intelligently connect all players, disciplines and levels of regeneration in Scotland and beyond. It is internationally respected as being independent, informed and influential.

SURF is often admired for punching well above its weight. While Andy and his skilled and creative team have progressively increased the range of the organisation’s networks and activities, SURF has deliberately remained a small and agile social enterprise, in terms of its staff team and its finances. That is another reason why it is regarded as a leading example of good value for its members and partners. Most importantly, it has proved efficient and effective in its main aim of improving the wellbeing and opportunities of people living and working in Scotland’s hardest pressed communities.

In commenting on this point of change for SURF,the Scottish Government’s, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, Aileen Campbell MSP said:

 “I pay tribute to the work of Andy and the impressive SURF team that he has led for the last 18 years.  Under his tenure, the organisation has grown and developed – it is a critical partner for Government, and more importantly, it has supported communities to flourish, helped improve and transform lives and has enhanced the country’s wellbeing.

“We all know there will be many challenges ahead, but SURF’s ability to constructively connect all of the different partners in regeneration will be more valuable than ever as we seek to not just recover from COVID, but to build a fairer and more equal Scotland.

“It has been a pleasure to work with SURF and Andy and to see up close the commitment and dedication they all have for the communities they care so much about.  I sincerely thank them for all their work and know that SURF and Andy will continue to make a significant contribution to Scotland.”

The Clyde Gateway Urban Regeneration Company is Scotland’s biggest and most ambitious regeneration programme. Its Chief Executive Ian Manson, commented,

Andy has kept SURF in the vanguard of public policy making. Now, more than ever, it has a vital role in promoting the regeneration of communities suffering from disadvantage but which also contain many strengths and huge potential for transformation.

In announcing his intention to step down, Andy Milne, said,

“I have hugely enjoyed what must be the best job of its kind in Scotland. It has been a real pleasure to see SURF grow in scope, performance and influence. That has only been possible with an excellent team of staff and directors. 

The inevitable changes that will follow the current Covid and Climate emergencies, make this a good time to bring in a fresh leadership perspective for SURF to take on the future challenges and associated possibilities. It is good to know that the organisation will be able do that from a position of strength, stability and forward looking confidence.”

SURF Chair Kate Wimpress, who is Director of North Edinburgh Arts and Convenor of the Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland, commented,

“Andy’s dynamic leadership over the last 18 years has ensured SURF’s unique contribution to regeneration discourse, policy and, importantly, action in communities facing major challenge across Scotland. 

His ability to join dots, enable collaborative action, and share a vision will be much missed, but he is leaving SURF in good shape for the future. Covid 19 has underscored the need for society to adapt, change priorities and address new and pressing concerns. SURF is very well placed, with its connections to over 300 active members across the country, to inform and reflect on how we do this, together. 

It has been a pleasure working with Andy, I know the Board will miss his insight, commitment, and humour, but we are heartened that he is taking a positive personal step, and opening up the ‘best job in Scotland’ for the next incumbent.” 

The SURF Board of Directors has engaged consultants Livingston James, to help it secure a suitable successor SURF CEO. The soon to be public recruitment process, aims to ensure a smooth handover before Andy leaves in March 2021.