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Introducing the ATCO board

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Damien Jones, Chair of ATCO

Damien is Deputy Director for Transport Operations, Environment and Waste at Devon County Council (DCC).  Prior to taking up this role in January 2023, he developed a career within passenger transport in Devon since 1989 working for both the DCC and Plymouth City Council, including heading up DCC’s Transport Coordination Service (TCS) for 8 years.  TCS  manages all aspects of passenger transport for the DCC as a number of other agencies including managing non-emergency patient transport on behalf of the NHS. 


After 3 years at Chair of the South West ATCO group Damien took over as ATCO Chair in March 2023 and it particularly keen to further develop regional and national links across the whole of the UK within ATCO, and with partner organisations.

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Cathy Knight - Co-Vice Chair of ATCO

Cathy has worked in the transport industry for over 30 years working for organisations in the private, industry trade association and public sectors.  She has wide ranging transport experience and has been involved in policy and operational aspects of passenger and sustainable transport, including home to school, SEND, social care and community transport, local bus and ENCTS.  Cathy joined Durham County Council in 2022 and has strategic management responsibility for all of the council’s road and rail passenger transport services and the council’s in house fleet and bus drivers.


Cathy is an ATCO board member and Chair of Bus Exec / Integrated Passenger Transport Manager, Durham County Council.

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Phil Lightowler – Co-Vice Chair of ATCO

Phil has been working in the passenger transport industry for over 30 years, with roles in operational management, policy, consultancy and since 2014 in a local authority.  In addition he has experience of working in the Middle East, North Africa and Australia.  As Head of Public Transport for Kent County Council, he manages the traditional public transport elements, alongside home to school transport, for England’s largest county council.  He is currently Joint Vice Chair of ATCO with a focus on Home to School Transport.

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Julie Mitchell – Secretary of ATCO

Julie is the Policy & Information Manager for Passenger Transport at Suffolk County Council, leading on all aspects of home to school travel, policy development, entitlement, appeals, customer experience and process review, data report and finance.

Julie has worked for Suffolk County Council for over 20 years and has been an active member of ATCO for 15 years, joining board in 2020.  Working with regional and national partners on school travel related issues and best practise, including the Department for Education (DfE) and the Department for Transport (DfT).  Julie has also led on ENCTS within Suffolk since 2009 and is currently on the Concessionary Travel Technical Advisory Group with DfT.

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Andrew Clarke

Andy started his career in the commercial bus sector in the early 1990s working for Transit Holdings, Stagecoach and Arriva before joining Buckinghamshire County Council in 2001. He spent 20 years there in a number of school and public transport roles before joining North Yorkshire Council in 2022 as Public & Community Transport Manager. An ATCO member for over 20 years and board member for 10, he also chaired the South East Region group until joining North Yorkshire.

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Peter Hardy

Peter Hardy is a Technical Director with consultancy Integrated Transport Planning, providing advice and assistance on all aspects of passenger transport policy, planning and provision. Throughout his career in local government and consultancy, he has been an active member and supporter of ATCO (for over 30 years), carrying out various roles. He is currently a member of the ATCO Board and oversees the annual ATCO Benchmarking Survey.

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Niki Park

Niki has worked at Norfolk County Council since 1995, starting in school transport and then moving into the integrated transport unit when it was set up in 1999. She is now the Head of the Passenger Transport Service overseeing children’s, adults, local bus, community and concessionary transport, with a spend of nearly £100m per year. Niki was encouraged to attend regional ATCO meetings from the start and found them extremely valuable for networking and learning from other local authorities. She was a member of the School Travel Executive for many years, including being the Chair for about 5 years, and has helped to organise many of the ATCO seminars and conferences.

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Andrew Varley

Andrew is currently Public Transport Manager at Lancashire County Council, having worked for the authority for over 30 years. Over that time he has held a number of roles within the wider public transport team with a large proportion of his career managing the public transport information and marketing function and a number of European projects . His current role now incorporates bus, rail, information, interchanges and bus stations, concessionary travel and community transport.


Andrew has been an active ATCO Member since about 1997 and has chaired the NW ATCO Information Special Interest Group for many years. He attends the ATCO Bus Executive and since 2018 sits on the ATCO Board. He represents ATCO on the Traveline Information Limited board and also represents the organisation on the DfT Bus Open Data Programme Board, offering advice from a wider local authority perspective.

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