SOPO Directors

SOPO is a Company limited by Guarantee
Company Registration No. 43111839

The Directors of SOPO are...


Chair (and Director)

Liz Welton

has been Chair of Society of Procurement Officers in Local Government (SOPO) since November 2008.

Currently Liz manages a shared procurement service for Coventry, Solihull, Warwickshire, Nuneaton and Bedworth and Rugby councils. Liz currently represents SOPO on the LGA's National Advisory Group for Local Government and has played an active role in developing the proposed National Procurement Strategy and sat on the ratification committee for the LGA innovation pilots.


Treasurer (and Director)

Paul Smith

has over 20 years' experience within procurement having held senior roles at various private sector organisations and is now Procurement and Supply Chain Director at YPO. Having joined YPO in 2010 Paul is responsible for all procurement and logistics functions. This includes over 300 staff and a procurement spend of around £400m.

YPO is the UK's largest public sector buying organisation. Established in 1974, YPO is owned by 13 local authorities and buys goods and services on behalf of the public sector by aggregating buying power and generating savings. YPO is self-funding and non-profit making, any profit is returned to the public sector.


Secretary (and Director)

Nicol Thornton - London Fire Brigade

Nicol has more than 30 years procurement experience in both the public and private sectors including senior roles within the Department of Social Security, NHS Supplies, Texas Utilities and the Fire and Rescue Service.

He joined the London Fire Brigade as Head of Procurement in October 2007 following a period with the East of England Regional Centre of Excellence on a secondment from Suffolk County Council, where he had already managed through a radical change in the council's approach to procurement. In June 2006 he joined the Regional Centres of Excellence National Procurement Programme; a project to enable all nine Regional Centres of Excellence accelerate the help they could provide to local authorities in order that they may deliver significant cash savings. He worked closely with local authority procurement professionals in all nine regions of England and also DCLG, OGC and many other partner organisations.

Nicol is a member of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply and has been the local government representative on CIPS council. In 2010 he was elected to the role of Secretary of SOPO (The Society of Procurement Officers in Local Government) having served on the National Executive Committee since 2001. Until recently Nicol was also Chair of the Association of Procurement Professionals in the Fire Service.


Assistant Secretary (and Director)

Andrea Tickner - Gateshead Council

Andrea has over 25 years experience in procurement mainly within the public sector although she spent 4 years working for a retail organisation. She has worked in a County Council, headed up procurement in Sunderland Council and currently in Gateshead Council and she managed the North East Purchasing Organisation for 7 years.

Andrea has been the Assistant Secretary of the Society of Procurement Officers (in Local Government) since it was established in 1997 and she has played a key influencing role representing Local Government on many Central Government Forums.

Andrea was also instrumental in establishing PRO5, a group of the largest and most influential public sector consortia in the country.


Membership Secretary

Andy Oakley - London Borough of Sutton


Andy has worked in Public Sector procurement for over 30 years which includes time in the MOD (PE)and the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. His current role is Procurement Manager at the London Borough of Sutton.


Andy has served on the SOPO National Executive since 1997 as a London Regional Representative. He was also previously a London Representative for the AMA Purchasing Group between 1992 and 1997. In addition Andy has since 1991 held several lead roles in the London Contracts & Supplies Group (LCSG). Recently he stepped down from the LCSG Executive.


Andy has been the Membership Secretary for SOPO since 2011.