Phil Prentice, Chief Officer

Photo of Phil Prentice, Chief Officer

"My role as Chief Officer is to ensure that we build a collaborative community to support and promote the development of Scotland's towns. STP is to become the national "go to" body so my focus will be on creating new partnerships and products and services that will assist communities and practitioners to take their towns and projects forward. Our call to action will be the new national Towns Web Portal.

Scotland's Towns and smaller settlements account for 70% of our population base and aside from their significant economic contribution in terms of commerce and employment, they provide a living record of our history and heritage, they provide places where communities can meet, socialise and celebrate culture, and hubs where people can live, access services, leisure, entertainment and transport.

Despite the numerous factors and pressures impacting on our towns I believe that empowered communities can be energised to ensure that Scotland's towns remain vibrant and continue to play a vital role in our nations future."

Professor Leigh Sparks, Chair

Photo of Professor Leigh Sparks, Chair

"I am Chair of Scotland’s Towns Partnership and Professor of Retail Studies at the University of Stirling. I was a member of the External Advisory Group set up to produce the National Review of Town Centres for the Scottish Government.  

Towns are a distinctive and critical part of Scottish life and are at the core of our economy and society. They provide places for people to live, work and play and to generate identities, stories and opportunities. My interest in towns is long standing, from my geographical training,  and focuses on helping towns, town managers and townsfolk (citizen, commercial or organizational) make the best of their assets and places, including rethinking space for retailing and retail diversity."

Mhairi Donaghy, Vice Chair (Membership Services)

Photo of Mhairi Donaghy, Vice Chair (Membership Services)

Mhairi Donaghy is Associate Director at EKOS Economic and Social Research and leads all of the practice’s regeneration and place development studies.  She has considerable experience of towns and town centre research, having undertaken a wide range of studies across Scotland over many years including place audits, strategy and action plan development, project appraisals and funding applications.

Mhairi has a very strong interest in towns as a service user and shopper, as a visitor, and as an economic research practitioner.  She sits on the Board of her local Business Association and is supporting the group in its progress toward establishing a Business Improvement District (BID).  Towns are essential in clustering together the facilities and services that people want to use in accessible locations that promote variety and encourage innovation.  Successful towns have a distinctive offer, are vibrant places, and encourage people to visit through activities, events and marketing efforts, helping to sustain business performance.  Where they can define their purpose and exploit opportunities, all towns have the potential to build a more successful future.

Ian Davison Porter, Vice Chair (Learning, Skills and Education)

Photo of Ian Davison Porter, Vice Chair (Learning, Skills and Education)

Ian Davison Porter's early career was in retail, store development and redevelopment. Later he was part of the project and management team of a multi million pound town centre shopping centre refurbishment and rebuild, part of a wider public and private sector partnership urban regeneration programme. His career took him to town centres across the UK. He joined Town Centres Initiative Limited in West Dunbartonshire before joining the Scottish Government to lead the BIDs programme in April 2006. Improvement Districts Scotland Limited was incorporated in 2009 and is the national organisation for BIDs in Scotland.

Ian is also a Director with the Economic Development Association (Scotland) (EDAS) and Vice Chair and a Director of the Scotland's Towns Partnership, a Director of Improvement and Development Scotland Limited and a Member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Urban Regeneration and Renewal.

Malcolm Brown, Board Member

Photo of Malcolm Brown, Board Member

Malcolm Brown is Head of Corporate Communications at Scotmid Co-operative and Chair of Queensferry Ambition – a Business Improvement District. In both roles, communities and towns play a key part in his work – helping to keep town centres vibrant through initiatives in both roles. At both Scotmid and QA, Malcolm visits towns the length and breadth of the country and sees first-hand the importance of ensuring that our towns and especially town centres remain great places to live, work and play. Too often in the past, we have let our towns suffer at the hands of out of town shopping developments and then we ask – what has gone wrong with our communities?! The role with Scotland’s Towns give me an opportunity to bring my experience to helping ensure our town continue to thrive in the future.

Tom Sneddon, Treasurer

Photo of Tom Sneddon, Treasurer

"I am currently treasurer to Scotland's Towns Partnership. I live and work in a small town as well as chairing Carluke Development Trust which operates in a small post industrial town in sunny Lanarkshire. Some 70% of the country's population live in our towns which makes them so important in terms of economic activity and everyday life as a place to live, work and enjoy."

Annique Armstrong, Board Member

Photo of Annique Armstrong, Board Member

Annique has worked in tourism for almost 15 years across a variety of disciplines including roles in Marketing and Account Management. She currently works as a Regional Director with VisitScotland covering Ayrshire & Arran, Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire and Inverclyde and acting as a local champion, representing VisitScotland in all its strategic stakeholder engagement activity at regional and local levels.

Annique is particularly interested in the role towns can play in helping to grow the Scottish visitor economy. Vibrant towns can draw visitors who come to experience our history, culture and sample an authentic experience. The quality of our built environment as well as the vibrancy of the creative and food and drink scenes in our towns is important to the visitor experience and continued investment helps create a positive environment in which to enjoy the cultural offerings.

Craig McLaren, Board Member

Photo of Craig McLaren, Board Member

Craig is Director of Scotland of Ireland in the Royal Town Planning Institute. He took up post with RTPI in January 2011 and works with around 2,500 RTPI members in Scotland and Ireland to shape and inform policy and practice to ensure that planning helps to create great places for people.

Prior to this Craig spent almost 8 years setting up, and then managing, the Scottish Centre for Regeneration in Scottish Government and its agency Communities Scotland, as its Director. Between 1997 and 2003 Craig was Chief Executive of the Scottish Urban Regeneration Forum (SURF), the independent network promoting best practice in regeneration. He was Scottish Planning Policy Officer with the RTPI between 1994 and 1997, and before this he worked as a planner and economic development officer for the London Borough of Kingston upon Thames.

Carole Noble, Board Member

Photo of Carole Noble, Board Member

“I am an Environmental Health Officer with 20 years’ experience in environmental health, cleansing and waste management within local authorities. At Keep Scotland Beautiful I am Operations Director responsible for local environmental quality, working with the public and private sectors and with communities across Scotland and developing contracts, partnerships, campaigns and programmes.

I am particularly interested in the role of towns for those of us who live and work in them. The value of the quality of our local spaces cannot be underrated, and my passion, as well as my job, is to promote clean, safe and welcoming places for the people of Scotland. I am committed to working with the STP Board to highlight the value of excellent local environmental quality for communities and for business.”

Leigh Brown, Board Member

Photo of Leigh Brown, Board Member

As part of Perth and Kinross Council’s City Development team I have responsibility as City Centre Manager for the growth and development of Perth city centre. My interest in towns and cities is how we create social hubs that meet the needs of the local communities and offer a quality experience for visitors. I believe that towns and cities are important as they provide social centres and express the personality of a location to the outside world.

Daisy Narayanan, Board Member

"In my role as Deputy Director, Built Environment for Sustrans Scotland, I believe passionately in the importance of placemaking - creating good quality spaces which deliver economically, socially and environmentally sustainable design. This is crucial not just for enriching our daily lives but also to help make an invaluable contribution to the continued success of our towns.

Drawing on my previous experience working in India, Singapore, England and Scotland, I am keen that our walking and cycling projects are responsive to a broader opportunity, to design and create places that reflect and complement the communities that live in them.

In a well-connected and permeable town, the full potential of walking, cycling and other sustainable travel solutions need to to be realised in order to ensure that our towns are as healthy, economically vibrant, and socially cohesive as they can be. I look forward to working closely with the STP Board, to be able to contribute by sharing the best of our projects, research and thinking, and to look for ways to further integrate sustainable transport expertise into the valuable work that STP does".

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Chris Bell, Board Member


Chris Bell is a Chartered Engineer and Town Planner.

"I am Technical Director at WSP / Parsons Brinkerhoff, responsible for leading the Transportation and Development Planning Team in Scotland.

I was brought up in a small market town with a vibrate high street and great community spirit. During this time I started to witness the decline in the town centre from completing out of town developments. Over a 26-year career, I have developed and implemented projects to improve accessibility, safety and encourage sustainable travel for residents, shoppers, visitors and commuters. I have always tried to create places which are interesting, attractive and safe for people to live, work and move around as well as raising awareness of good street design and place agenda.

I feel that towns are important to encourage people to live, work and socialise through good quality housing and employment opportunities, providing local access to services and facilities and having attractive green spaces which are adequately connected to neighbourhoods." 

Martin Valenti, Board Member

With over 30 years’ experience in a variety of senior management roles, I have developed significant experience in environmental, economic and regulatory policy including project managing major projects and initiatives. I have successfully delivered high profile projects for the Scottish Government on environmental noise, contaminated land and climate change. More recently, I served a four-year secondment as Project Director for Scotland's 2020 Climate Group and played an instrumental role in setting the group up. I have extensive experience working with the highest levels of government and developing high level political and industry focused network contacts, allowing the capturing of key decision makers to help bring about strategic beneficial outcomes. I head up strategic initiatives for SEPA and serve as Vice Chair for Scotland's 2020 Climate Group. I am a trusted adviser who builds credibility quickly, excels in creating consensus among divergent groups, and communicates at all levels to manage sensitive issues and negotiate successful outcomes.

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