Senior figures from industry, education and local government are joining the West of England economic recovery taskforce led by Regional Mayor, Tim Bowles.
The taskforce will meet, virtually, for the first time today Friday 15 May, to agree how members will work together to put together a recovery plan for the region.
“Coronavirus is having an unprecedented impact on our residents’ jobs, businesses and livelihoods,” said Tim. “It is only by working together as a region that we can build a recovery that works for the West of England, that builds on our strengths and lets us seize the opportunities to renew our economy while avoiding the dangers of a second peak of the virus.
“The Prime Minister has asked me to take a lead on that work, and this task force will help safely get our region moving again, from supporting our businesses, workers and their families, to getting our digital and transport networks right.”
The economic recovery task force will be chaired by the West of England Mayor, with Prof Steve West, Chair of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, as vice chair. It also includes: Cllr Dine Romero, Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council; Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol; Cllr Don Davies, Leader of North Somerset Council, and Cllr Toby Savage, Leader of South Gloucestershire Council.
The taskforce represents key sectors that contribute to the region’s economy. Members include:
- David Brown, Chief Executive Officer, Bristol Port
- Nigel Costley, Regional Secretary, TUC South West
- Andy Forbes, Principal, City of Bristol College
- Dave Lees, Chief Executive Officer, Bristol Airport
- Poku Osei, Chief Executive Officer, Babbasa
- Dick Penny, Chair of West of England Cultural Strategy Group
- Joanne Rumley, Partner, Foot Anstey and Member of West of England Skills Advisory Panel
- Phil Smith, Managing Director, Business West
- Ian White, Vice Chancellor and President, University of Bath
- Rick Sturge, South West Chair, Business in the Community
Industry sector representatives include:
- Aerospace/Advanced Engineering: Paul Craig, Rolls Royce
- Creative and Digital Tech: Sammy Payne, Co-founder, Open Bionics
- Professional Services: Katharine Finn, PWC
- Tourism: Kathryn Davis, Destination Bristol & Visit Bath
- Food and Rural Enterprise: Peter Alvis, Managing Director, Lye Cross Farm
- Transport & Logistics: David Coombes, Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport
- Health and Life Sciences: Natasha Swinscoe, West of England Academic Health Science Network
- Low Carbon: Margot Day, Buro Happold
- Incubators, Accelerators and Hubs: Neil Douglas, Viper Innovations
- Housing, Construction & Development: Richard Bonner, Arcadis
- Digital Connectivity: Jon Reynolds, GDS
Members have been invited to join by the Mayor based on their credibility within their sectors; they will contribute their time and insight without financial remuneration.
The taskforce will report to the West of England Combined Authority and the Local Enterprise Partnership.
The taskforce represents key sectors that contribute to the region’s economy. Members include:
David Brown OBE, Chief Executive Officer, Bristol Port
David Brown joined The Bristol Port Company in October 2008 as the Operations Director and was appointed as its Chief Executive Officer in 2016.
Prior to joining the Port, David spent 24 years serving in the British Army during which time he was involved in numerous operational deployments culminating in commanding his battalion in Afghanistan in 2007.
Nigel Costley, Regional Secretary, TUC South West
Nigel was elected a trade union official at the age of 24 in the printing industry just as the 1980’s recession hit. Redundancy support dominated his early career and he learnt that advice and guidance wasn’t enough to get people back to work. He established a cooperative training operation for unemployed print and graphics workers that became the top performer in the area.
He joined the Board of Hereford and Worcester Training and Enterprise Council and when appointed Regional Secretary for the South West TUC he joined the WESTEC Board.
He became the longest serving director of the South West Regional Development Agency and was the inspiration behind the formation of Equality South West.
Nigel is also a part-time PhD student at the University of the West of England.
Andy Forbes, Principal, City of Bristol College
Brought up in Birmingham, Andy Forbes did his teacher training at Manchester University and began his career as a secondary school teacher of English and Drama, before making the transition to further education by joining Manchester College.
Until recently, he was the Principal of City & Islington College, which is a General FE College but also the largest A level provider in London. Previously, he was Principal of the College of Haringey, Enfield, and North East London, and before that, of Hertford Regional College. Prior to this, he was Vice Principal at Blackpool and the Fylde College, and before that, he was Director of Widening Participation at The Oldham College.
He has served as a school governor, Chair of a housing association, Chair of Oldham Race Equality Partnership, and specialist adviser to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Social Cohesion. His work with Oldham Housing Department won a National Training Award in 1996. He served for seven years as a member of the OCR Examinations Board Policy Committee, and is currently a Trustee of UCAS and Chair of the Board of UCAS Media Limited.
Dave Lees, Chief Executive Officer, Bristol Airport
Dave Lees joined Bristol Airport as its new CEO in August 2018, after several years as Managing Director of Southampton Airport, and previously as the Airport Operations Director and Planning and Development Director.
During his time as MD, Southampton achieved record growth in both passenger numbers and service level achievements. Dave has also had a successful aviation career across a range of roles at other UK Airports including; Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.
Poku Osei, Chief Executive Officer, Babbasa
Poku Osei is a social entrepreneur with cross-sector experience in business start-ups, real estate, community engagement and social mobility programmes.
He is the founder and CEO of Babbasa – the award winning social mobility enterprise, which supports underrepresented young people into employment and enterprise. He is also the Founder of the World Economic Forum initiative – Global Shapers in Bristol, and Co-founder of The Black Professionals Network.
He will be focusing on young people, skills, employment, equal opportunity and inclusion on the taskforce.
Dick Penny, Chair of West of England Cultural Strategy Group
Dick Penny works as creative producer, manager and consultant. Dick has extensive CEO experience including Bristol’s Watershed 1998-2018. His consultancy ranges from SMEs to national bodies. Theatre producer projects include the World Premiere of ‘When the Wind Blows’ adapted by Raymond Briggs from his book; Pete Postlethwaite in ‘Macbeth’; and two award winning solo shows: ‘Baglady’ with Sorcha Cusack and ‘Scaramouche Jones’ with Pete Postlethwaite.
Dick has also worked as a builder, computer programmer and manager in manufacturing industry, from self-assembly furniture and commercial vehicles to industrial textiles.
Dick has served as Executive Chair of Bristol Old Vic and Chair of Bristol Local Strategic Partnership. He has been awarded honorary doctorates from the Universities of Bristol and West of England, and in 2011 he received an MBE for services to the creative industries. He is currently a member of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership Board.
Joanne Rumley, Partner, Foot Anstey and Member of West of England Skills Advisory Panel
Joanne Rumley is a partner at law firm Foot Anstey LLP; specialising in advising businesses and stakeholders affected by financial distress. Since 2001 she has been heavily involved with companies across the region but also works nationally; particularly in the financial and professional services, construction and retail sectors.
Her role is focused on opportunities for turnaround, preservation of employment and building sustainable growth but will also involve managing formal insolvency processes. She provides board level advice on the duties and responsibilities of directors experiencing financially challenging circumstances.
Joanne serves on a number of voluntary boards including the West of England LEP, the Insolvency Lawyers’ Association and the Turnaround Management Association. She also served on the Law Society National Equality and Diversity Committee and has spent many years involved in primary school governance in Bristol and South Gloucestershire with particular focus on vulnerable children and raising aspirations.
Phil Smith, Managing Director, Business West
From 1983, Phil worked in the North Sea oil and gas fields as an offshore construction engineer for an American oil company. The stagnating North Sea oil industry of the late 1980s led Phil to gain an MBA and take a role as a mergers and acquisitions specialist at a City of London investment bank.
Phil moved to Bristol in the early 1990s to become the CEO of the West of England Business Link.
In 2003 Phil took on his current position as MD of Business West, the largest Chamber of Commerce in the UK, and a public purpose company, which operates the West of England Initiative and the Bristol, Bath, Gloucestershire & Wiltshire Chambers of Commerce. It also operates various public sector contracts, including DIT export services and Innovate UK services for the SW region.
Business West is the co-founder of Destination Bristol and the Bristol Cultural Development Partnership. Phil is Chair of the South West Ventures Fund Advisory and the West of England ESIF committees and sits on the Court of Bristol University.
Professor Ian White FREng, Vice-Chancellor and President, University of Bath
Professor Ian White joined the University of Bath in April 2019 prior to which he was Master of Jesus College, and Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Chair of the School of Technology at Cambridge University. He has also held senior positions at both the University of Bath and the University of Bristol.
Professor White’s research interests are in photonics, including optical data communications and laser diode-based devices. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the UK Royal Academy of Engineering, and the Institution of Engineering and Technology. He is heavily involved in policy development and administration of research, and sits on a number of International Conference Committees.
Ian also co-founded Zinwave Ltd, a company providing wireless coverage solutions, and PervasID Ltd which develops ultra-high-frequency RFID readers. He has previously been a Board Member of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership. He has published in excess of 1,000 papers and more than 30 patents.
Rick Sturge, SW Chair, Business in the Community (BiTC)
Rick Sturge is CFO of the Bristol-based company running the Bloodhound world land speed record project and is the Regional Advisory Board Chairman for Business in the Community in the Southwest.
His background is in business transformation and consultancy working in senior executive roles for companies such as Serco, BT, PwC, Accenture and IBM – advising Governments and multinational businesses in more than 100 countries across the world.
He has run major projects for the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the EBRD and the European Union, and represented the UK as an international trade ambassador.
Industry sector representatives include:
Creative and Digital Tech: Sammy Payne, Open Bionics
Sammy Payne is the co-founder of Open Bionics, an award-winning Bristol-based robotics company that exports medical devices internationally. Open Bionics is a venture backed tech company that works with industry giants such as Disney and Marvel to create sci-fi themed Hero Arms.
Sammy is also the chair of the West of England’s Creative Scale Up board and a board member of both the South West Creative Tech Network and Bristol and Bath R&D Network. These initiatives total £13m and provide support to talented early stage companies, growing scale ups, and creative practitioners and entrepreneurs across the South West.
Professional Services: Katharine Finn, Partner, PwC West & Wales
Katharine Finn is an audit partner in PwC’s Bristol office and until recently was the Regional Leader of their West and Wales practice. She has a wide range of experience working with clients from many different sectors, but has particular experience in working with listed companies and with regulated companies across the financial services and utilities sector.
Outside the firm, Katharine has a portfolio of interests in both Bristol and Cardiff. She is the deputy chair of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership and the Cardiff City Chair for TheCityUK. She has also been CBI Wales Council member. She is a member of the Society of Merchant Venturers and sits on their education committee. She is also a Trustee of Avon Wildlife Trust and has previously been the Prince of Wales’ Ambassador for Responsible business in the South West.
Tourism: Kathryn Davis, Destination Bristol & Visit Bath
Kathryn Davis has spent almost all of her professional life working in tourism, hospitality and leisure, the last 20 years of which have been with Destination Bristol.
This has taken her from a Marketing Executive pioneering digital communication to Head of Tourism, working on regional, national and international programmes across all areas of the visitor economy in. She is also interim Chief Executive at Visit Bath, joining in September 2019.
Kathryn is also a non-executive director at Gloucestershire County Cricket Club, a member of the Tourism Management Institute and a regular speaker at industry events. In 2018, she was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Tourism at the Bristol, Bath and Somerset Tourism awards.
Transport & Logistics: David Coombes MBA FCILT FCMI, Chief Executive of Skills for Logistics and The Skills Group
With over 35 years experience working in transport and logistics, David Coombes plays a pivotal role within the sector, recruiting talent and helping to develop learning across the industry.
For the last 18 months he has been an advisor to the Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education, he has been Regional Chairman of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport for over 10 years and a strategic advisor to the UK Warehousing Association.
Bristol-based Skills for Logistics is a leading awarding and assessing body for apprenticeship standards and is developing a digital learning platform focusing on vocational and technical learning.
David will be chairing the Transport and Logistics sub-group for the West of England’s economic recovery taskforce by developing regional insight into the pandemic’s impact, proposing actions to mitigate those effects and ultimately enhancing the region’s competitiveness.
Health and Life Sciences: Natasha Swinscoe, West of England Academic Health Science Network
A graduate of NHS management training, Natasha Swinscoe has over 25 years of leadership experience in the NHS.
With experience in commissioning and provider organisations, Natasha has led adult and child mental health, children’s community and acute services, adult surgical and specialist renal and transplantation services. Natasha has an MSc in Leadership and Development of Public Sector Organisations.
Natasha joined the West of England AHSN as COO in 2015, and became CEO early in 2018.
Natasha is National Lead for Patient Safety for the AHSN Network and also serves on the board of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership.
Low Carbon: Margot Day, Buro Happold
Margot Day is the Global Director for Risk and Commercial Law at the Bath headquarters of Buro Happold Limited, an international multi-disciplinary engineering and consulting practice situated in over 21 locations globally. She is also a senior solicitor of the courts of England and Wales.
Margot has worked in the south west region and particularly Bristol since 2004. She worked for Osborne Clarke before moving in-house to work with Hyder PLC and subsequently as a partner in Arcadis LLP. She has held a number of senior management positions, acting as part of UK Boards and also leading the Bristol office in a previous company.
She is passionate about driving equality, diversity, inclusion agendas both inside and outside of work.
Incubators, Accelerators and Hubs: Neil Douglas, Managing Director, Viper Innovations
Neil Douglas worked for an international corporation for 23 years in various engineering and management positions until 2007 when he co-founded Viper Innovations, a company that specialises in technology development.
Head-quartered in Portishead, Viper Innovations has continuously invested in research and development, which has driven the company to realise an average annual growth rate of over 30%. The company has won many business and technology awards including the Queens Award for Enterprise. Exports account for most of Viper’s revenues, with Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas all export destinations.
As well as being the Managing Director of Viper Innovations, Neil also sits on the board of LiveWire Innovation Inc, a UTAH-based technology company, and is on board of the West of England LEP. Neil brings experience of the needs of technology companies, SMEs, and those who are exporting or hope to export.
Housing, Construction & Development: Richard Bonner, Arcadis
Richard Bonner has worked for Arcadis for 13 years, based in Bristol, he has had several leadership roles more recently as the UK Managing Director for Property. Currently he is the UK Commercial and Operations Director and City Executive Bristol.
Richard, a Chartered Civil Engineer, has a background in engineering and consultancy working generally in the housing, regeneration and development sector with both public and private sector clients.
As the Bristol City Executive for Arcadis, Richard leads the business to market shaping solution to help the city region grow and develop through sustainable urbanisation , housing delivery and regeneration.
Richard is the President of the Bristol Chamber of Commerce and Initiative, a Director of Business West, and a board member of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership. He is a member of the West of England Combined Authority Economic Regional Taskforce and will chair the Housing, Construction and Development Sector Group.
Richard is a member of the Leadership Centre Future Vision Alumni Council.
Digital Connectivity: Jon Reynolds, GDS
Jon Reynolds is the Chief Executive for GDS Digital – a Bristol company which delivers internet-based solutions, including a health and social care platform for better assisted living. These digital capabilities help transform the way public services can be delivered to citizens and patients as they engage and interact with local authorities, healthcare and housing associations through a range of self-service options.
From developing a new start-up division in direct marketing in Bristol in the 1990s to chairing BT’s South West Board, Jon has been proud to have been a champion for the regional growth agenda. During his thirty-year career in telecommunications, he has led a number of regional and national broadband programmes including Superfast Cornwall and the Public Sector Broadband Aggregation (PSBA) service in Wales.