Meet our members

Zoe McLeod

Customer Challenge Group Chair

Zoe is a leading consumer advocate with more than 20 years’ experience championing customer and community concerns. This includes for the customer watchdogs, Citizens Advice/Consumer Focus, Friends of the Earth, the fuel poverty charity National Energy Action and as an elected Councillor and Assistant Cabinet Member for Young People and Youth Services. Her background also includes leading on the consumer vulnerability strategy at the energy regulator Ofgem, and an expert Advisor to Ofwat’s Water 2020 Panel and lay Board member for the Bar Standards Board, the regulator for barristers. Currently Zoe is an Associate with the charity Sustainability First with a particular focus on sustainable corporations, innovation, engagement, and improving customer service and quality of life for those with additional needs and on low incomes. She is also a member of National Grid's User Group, has been an expert advisor to Ofgem on engagement and is Chair of Cadent Gas' Customer Engagement Group.

Leslie Sopp

Independent market research and customer insight expert

Dr Louise Bardsley

Natural England

Rupika Madhura

Independent economist and price review expert

Penny Shepherd MBE

Community and consumer advocate

Jonathan Sellars

Environment Agency

Alice Laycock

Consumer Council for Water (CCW) representative

Alex Adam

Independent environment and catchment specialist

Helen Fleming

Independent business, policy and finance expert

Register of Interests

Name of group member Description of interest Does the interest relate to the Group member or a person closely connected to them Is the interest current?
Zoe Mcleod Associate with the charity Sustainability First
Director at the Consumer Watchdog Ltd
Chair of Cadent Gas Customer Engagement Group
Member of National Grid User Group - consumer representative
Volunteer for the Charity Action for Children
Group member Yes
Zoe Mcleod Commissioned by UKWIR to develop an independent report on ways to measure and eradicate water poverty (2019/20)
Ofwat's Expert Advisory Panel on Water 2020 (2016)
Group member No
Louise Bardsley Natural England (employee) Group member Yes
Alice Laycock Consumer Council for Water (employee) Group member
Penny Shepherd Chair of Orchard Community Energy
Vice Chair of Kent Community Energy
Chair of COAM Members Ltd
Group member Yes
Rupika Madhura Bar Standards Board (employee) Group member Yes
Leslie Sopp Member of Cadent Gas Ltd Customer Engagement Group (OFGEM RIIO-2 regulatory scrutiny) Group member Yes
Alex Adam Head of Water Stewardship, The Rivers Trust
Member of Catchment Based Approach National Steering Group
Advisory Group member of Cambridge Institute of Sustainable Leadership, Catchment Declaration
Courtauld 2025 collective action on water. UK programme lead including Holistic Water for Horticulture in Medway
Member of WINEP Task Force
Group member Yes
Alex Adam Councillor - Godalming Town Council Group member No
Helen Fleming Member of Cadent Gas Customer Engagement Group
Member of Scottish and Southern Energy Networks Customer Engagement Group
Group member Yes

Membership Update

In line with good practice, we regularly update the membership of the CCG to maximise our independence from the company and ensure the right balance in our membership between fresh perspectives, and continuity of understanding of the water sector and the company to ensure robust challenge.

Six members stepped down from the Group 2018-19. Our great thanks go to Caroline Farquhar, Janet Hill, David Howarth, Richard Lavender, Adrienne Margolis and Veronica McGannon for all their hard work on behalf of consumers.

For the start of the 2020-25 business planning cycle, three new independent members were appointed following an audit of our membership – Alex Adams, Helen Fleming and Bev Keogh. In addition, we welcomed Jonathan Sellars from the Environment Agency who has replaced David Howarth, and Alice Laycock from CCW, the statutory water watchdog. Penny Shepherd MBE, the local CCW consumer advocate stepped down from CCW and now sits on the Group as an independent. In May 2021, Karen Gibbs stepped down as CCW representative on the Group and Bev Keogh left due to a conflict of interest with a new role on the Board of the statutory watchdog CCW. We thank both Karen and Bev for their contribution to the Group.

Members are deliberately recruited to have the complementary skills and knowledge to perform the CCG role but also to reflect a diverse range of backgrounds - including consumer, business, government, regulation, charities and third sector to ensure effective scrutiny and to help avoid ‘group think’.

CCG member training and development

The CCG takes responsibility individually and collectively to ensure members have an up to date understanding of the main obligations, issues and priorities needed to carry out their role in an independent manner on the CCG.

Our training and induction programme for new members which has also been used as refresher training for existing members includes:

  • Introduction to South East Water Business Plan 2020-25
  • South East Water overview – governance, restructure, Vision/Values/Purpose
  • CCG overview – role and operation of the CCG
  • South East Water Performance in AMP6 and summary of Performance Commitments for AMP7
  • CCW presentation on the role of CCW and their view on South East Water performance
  • Overview of South East Water's customer digital platform
  • Corporate Plan overview
  • Deep dive in to Performance Commitments and targets 2020-25
  • Deep dive in to Environmental Performance Commitments and measures 2020-25

We also invite Ofwat, Drinking Water Inspectorate, Natural England and the Environment Agency to explain the role of their respective organisations, provide policy updates and views on the company’s performance.

In the current Covid-19 climate we have not been able to undertake site visits but the company has shared induction videos related to Arlington Reservoir and water testing in the interim.

Join the Customer Challenge Group!

If you are interested in becoming a member of the CCG please register here . For more information on the role please see the previous advert here