Speaker Biographies for Scotland’s Towns Conference
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Matt Baker

Matt Baker was a founder member of The Stove Network in 2011 he has run his own public art studio for 20 years, he was Lead Artist for the City of Inverness from 2006-10 and was Lead Artist in the Gorbals from 1999-2005

The Stove Network is a membership-led charity that operates a fully accessible public arts resource in a 3 storey former shop in the heart of Dumfries town centre.  It runs a programme of regular events, long-term projects, workshops and opportunities that support the local community to be actively involved in shaping a new future for the town.

The Stove Network is the Community Development Trust for Dumfries Town Centre - our dynamic team collaborates with local groups, organisations, agencies and local businesses to increase community empowerment and cultural activity in Dumfries’ degenerated town centre.  Our projects engage people in issues around diversity, deprivation, public perception, local policy-making and use of empty space. The Stove is open to all, it supports a network of artists to build national and international connections as well as a running a youth programme for emerging creatives. 

Kelvin Campbell

Kelvin is Founding Chair, Smart Urbanism; Built Environment Fellow: Royal Commission 1851; Honorary Professor: [email protected], University College London; urbanist and writer: The Massive SMALL Project. He is recognised internationally as a leading figure in urbanism. An architect/urban designer, he co-founded Urban Initiatives, leading some of the best urban projects in Europe. He was Visiting Professor of Urban Design, University of Westminster; member of the CABE Design Review Committee; Chair, Urban Design Group; Prince’s Foundation Advisory Panelist, and assessor for the National Housing Design Awards. He received the UDG Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the profession and was later awarded the 1851 Royal Commission Fellowship in the Built Environment. He was the lead author of ‘By Design’ (CABE) 2000, the government’s guidance on design in the planning system and wrote and published ‘Re:Urbanism’, ‘MASSIVE SMALL’ and ‘The Radical Incrementalist: How to build urban society in 12 lessons’.

Geoff Gelder, Secretary, Auchterarder Community Partnership

Geoff Gelder is Secretary of Auchterarder Community Partnership. He enjoyed a successful 25 year career in the Royal Air Force as a Flight Simulator Engineer, followed by 16 years in the Defence Industry as a Project Manager – mostly associated with training equipment for advanced fast jet pilots.

He took the opportunity to take early retirement in 2011, and moved to Auchterarder in 2012.  This gave him the chance to catch up on his Horticultural interests and subsequently led to wider Community Projects, something which was previously difficult due to frequent moves.

He successfully established Allotment Gardens within Auchterarder, and provided the community with a Community Website on behalf of the Auchterarder Community Partnership. He is also vice chair of both the local Community Council and Bloom Association.

Felix Gibson

Felix Gibson is a graduate of the Xerox school of Professional Sales Skills and Board Director with 35 years experience in Telecommunications and Data Networking with blue chip companies such as Cable and Wireless, Alcatel, Pitney Bowes, 3 Com and CoLT Telecom. Results driven, his motivation is in resolving issues and challenges through customer interaction, and delivering projects as proposed. A customer facing approach to care and support with a responsible attitude, and delivering on customer expectations to agreed timescale, budget and standard.

As CEO at 802 Works he works in partnership with a broad spectrum of industries. From sports and arts entertainment, retail and hospitality to organisations in enterprise public sector and third sector, the mission is to help develop revenue generating strategies and profits. The company is experienced in delivering a range of WiFi and Fixed Radio products and services such as Town Centre WiFi, In Stadium WiFi, Leased Line Replacement and Data Capture and Management.

As well as a founder of the 802 Works Felix also sits on the Board of 802 Event WiFi, a trading style of 802 Works specifically focused on Intelligent WiFi in community and town environments.

Michael Goodger

Michael Goodger is one of icecream architecture’s project managers and is a designer and maker who developed an interest in community engaged design whilst studying architecture at The University of Sheffield. Through involvement in a number of live build projects both in the UK and further afield he has witnessed first hand the catalytic impact that community driven interventions can have in transforming an area and has developed a fascination with the role that a hands on approach can play in generating a sense of ownership and place.

He has previously worked in Arts Development with the Forest Art Works programme, at Forestry Commission England delivering national projects that have developed opportunities for artists to engage with the environment, creating new experiences for visitors throughout the Public Forest Estate.

icecream architecture is a team of Community-led Facilitators, Environmental Artists, Graphic Designers, Architects, Illustrators, Product Designers and Strategic Thinkers. The practice was founded in 2009 with a community led ethos focussed on regeneration, enterprise and action.

Bill Harvey

Bill Harvey is a native of Kirkcaldy and is married with three sons and two grandchildren. A retired Royal Naval Officer who spent the vast majority of his service life on-board Submarines. He left the Service in 1993 and had several positions in the Business Development field including a short spell with Fife Council working in the Economic Development Service. In 2004 he and a Business Partner formed a Company that sold Grass Machinery and Tractors to Golf Clubs and Local Authorities. He sold his share of the Business in 2010 and was appointed by Kirkcaldy 4 All shortly afterwards.

Lesley Laird

Depute Leader of Fife Council and Spokesperson for Economy & Planning. Lesley was a first time elected Labour Councillor in May 2012 and represents Ward 6, Inverkeithing, Aberdour and Dalgety Bay.

Educated at Glasgow Caledonian University (CIPD) and Napier University, (BA in Business Management & HR) and a qualified Executive Coach. Lesley's career prior to politics was spent working in senior HR roles in the electronic/semiconductor and financial services sectors.

One of Lesley’s key areas of responsibility is taking forward Fife’s Economic Development, Employment, Tourism and Planning agenda.  As Depute Leader, her role is to support and drive the strategic focus and priorities of the Labour Administration in Fife Council. Lesley also attends COSLA as a member of the Scottish Enterprise East of Scotland Advisory Board, and a Trustee of the Muir Dean Trust.  In terms of her planning brief Lesley is a member of Tayplan and Vice Convenor of SESplan.  She is also a Board member of Fife Business Gateway, the Fife Economy Partnership Board, and Fife Coast & Countryside Trust.  Lesley is also a member of the Trade Union, Unison.

Diarmaid Lawlor

Diarmaid is Director of Urbanism with Architecture and Design Scotland. An urbanist, with a multidisciplinary background, he has worked on projects involving the shaping and implementation of change for clients in Ireland, the UK and Europe, for the public, private and third sectors. He has almost 20 years’ experience of helping clients make well informed decisions about complex, connected urban policy and investment challenges. He is a designer, educator, communicator and collaborator who writes and speaks on creative approaches to making better places.

Kirsty Macari

Kirsty graduated in 2001 with a BSc(hons) in Town & Regional Planning and undertook further study to complete a Pg Dip in Urban Design.  Kirsty is currently a Senior Planner within the Environment & Development Plan section of Angus Council.  Her role includes managing officers in the team covering a variety of specialisms including landscape, access, conservation, biodiversity and sustainability dealing with strategy, policy and project delivery.  Kirsty is a steering group member of the Local Authority Urban Design Forum (LAUDF).  Kirsty is also a Founding Partner of Urbanizta.

Nikola Miller

Nikola joined the Homes for Scotland (HFS) team as Principal Planning Advisor in April 2016 with expertise in planning policy, advocacy and influencing as well as experience in planning consultancy. Working closely with both the Head of Planning and the Chief Executive, Nikola is involved in supporting HFS member interests through Scotland-wide committees as well as reviewing and influencing emerging Strategic Development Plans, Local Development Plans, Supplementary Guidance and related housing policy matters.

Her previous roles include Policy & Practice Officer for the Royal Town Planning Institute, Development Officer for PAS (formerly Planning Aid for Scotland) and Planning Consultant for Smiths Gore, Miller Developments and GVA. In addition to her role at HFS, Nikola is an Academician of the Academy of Urbanism, Committee Member of the RTPI South East Scotland Chapter, Secretary of the Central Scotland branch of Women in Property, a Volunteer and Board Member of PAS, and a Trustee of the Built Environment Forum Scotland. A graduate of the University of St Andrews and Heriot Watt University, Nikola became a Chartered Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute in 2008. 

Steve Millington

Dr Steve Millington is a Director of the Institute of Place Management and a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at Manchester Metropolitan University.  He is co-editor of Spaces of Vernacular Creativity: Rethinking the Cultural Economy and Cosmopolitan Urbanism, both published by Routledge.  He is co-author of the influential ESRC report High Street UK2020: Improving town and city centre vitality and viability and is a Co-investigator on the Bringing Bid Data to Small Users (BDSU) project funded by the Technology Strategy Board.  Involving retailers, the property industry, local authorities, trade associations, market authorities and local centres, the project aims to revolutionise town centre decision-making to enable these practitioners to make individual and collective decisions designed to optimise stakeholder performance and customer experience in retail centres. Steve has published a range of articles on place and place-making, including work on cultural policy, place branding, together with analysis of how public lighting can contribute to place identity, research that has featured on Radio 4’sThinking Allowed.

Andy Milne

Andy became Chief Executive of SURF in 2003. Since then, it has expanded its capacity, range and influence. In addition to its substantial programme of networking activities and information outputs, SURF now delivers an expansive Alliance for Action programme of place based, community regeneration collaborations. SURF is Scotland’s regeneration forum for practitioners, policy makers and academics. SURF is primarily concerned with shared efforts to tackle the causes and degenerative impacts of poverty and inequalities.

Prior to his SURF role, Andy spent 10 years as co-ordinator of the Wester Hailes Representative Council; frequently cited as a model of genuinely community led innovation, representation and service delivery.  He found his way into independent community work via studying architecture and an interest in politics. He is a director of the Community Development Alliance Scotland.

Gordon Mole

Gordon Mole is Fife Council’s Senior Manager for Business and Employability, having joined the Council in early 2016. Before joining Fife, Gordon held a leadership role as a member of the Corporate Management Team at Ipswich Borough Council as Head of Culture and Environment Services, managing a range of operational and income generating services.

Gordon has extensive management and leadership experience in local government, having managed employment and training, enterprise and economic development projects across central London, including construction employment schemes at Heathrow Terminal 5, the Shard of Glass and the Elephant and Castle regeneration scheme. He led on development of new apprenticeships and graduate training as Employment and Brokerage Manager for Crossrail.

He has provided policy advice to local and national government on the Work Programme, re-use of electronic waste, social enterprise and employment of military veterans.

Gordon holds a Masters degree in Development Planning and is a member of the Institute of Economic Development and SOLACE. He is a trustee of African Outreach, a charity which supports skills, welfare and health awareness in Liberia, Ghana and Zimbabwe. In his spare time enjoys the arts, built heritage and sailing.

Alasdair Morrison

Alasdair Morrison has been Head of Regeneration at Renfrewshire Council since August 2015.  He is responsible for the regeneration of Renfrewshire’s town centres, its economic development functions and leads the Infrastructure Workstream for the City of Culture Bid team.  Alasdair is a member of the Glasgow City Region Economic Delivery Group and chairs the Glasgow Airport Investment Area Steering Group.

Prior to this he has spent more than 20 years working in both the public and private sector in a planning, development and regeneration context across Scotland and England. During his time in property consultancy Alasdair advised on a number of large scale development projects in Glasgow City Centre including the award winning new campus for City of Glasgow College (UK’s largest FE college), the Buchanan Galleries Extension and Buchannan Quarter TIF (Scotland’s first) and new office developments at 110 Queen Street and 2 West Regent Street.  He has written many times for planning and property journals and for the mainstream media on such issues and spent 9 months on secondment to the Scottish Government examining development and infrastructure delivery in 2009.  Alasdair was also a member of the Scottish Government's External Advisory Group on Town Centres in 2012.

Phil Prentice

With over 20 years’ experience in the field of Economic Development, Phil Prentice is Chief Officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership. He considers it core to his role to ensure a collaborative community is built to support and promote the development of Scotland's towns. 

Prior to his appointment in November 2014, Phil headed up Economic Development, Regeneration and Employability services within East Renfrewshire Council. He also worked as a senior executive for Scottish Enterprise and in the private sector. A graduate of the Universities of Ulster, West of Scotland and Glasgow, Phil is now focussed on helping towns and smaller settlements across the country.

Polly Purvis, Chief Executive, Scotland IS

Polly started her career in retail banking in the City of London, followed by stints at Scottish Enterprise, with special responsibility for small business policy development, and in the exhibition industry and management consultancy. She then joined the Scottish Software Federation, and was actively engaged in the merger which formed ScotlandIS, where she has progressed to the role of CEO.

Polly represents ScotlandIS on the Digital Excellence Business Excellence Partnership, the Tech Partnership UK Scotland board, the ICT Skills Group, and the Industrial Advisory Board of the University of Dundee's School of Computing.  She also chairs the board of CodeClan and is a director of dotScot Registry.

Lorna Redford

Lorna Redford has been a Director of the family building company, Redford Homes Limited, for 33 years and Managing Director for the last 8 years. The company’s work has largely been in the private sector but there is no doubt that the downturn of 2007 has impacted hugely on the building trade.

To this end, the last three large building projects have revolved around affordable housing. These include: a block of six flats sold directly to a Housing Association; the renovation/conversion of an auction hall into four apartments; and Glengate Hall, a collaborative piece of work involving various departments of the Council, Planning, Building Control and Building Conservation. A close working relationship with the Historic Scotland Architect and the day-to-day architect as well as the management of trades.

Redford Homes Limited no longer carries out any project work, however, Lorna maintains close links to the daily running of Glengate Hall alongside her work with a local charitable organisation.

Steve Revell 

Steve Revell is Galashiels Town Centre Co-ordinator at Scottish Borders Council. Steve has worked in regeneration and economic development for over 25 years, mostly in local government. Working in the English midlands, the Northeast of England and since 2013 in Fife and the Borders, he has experience in delivering programmes in rural areas, market towns and the former coalfields. Most recently, Steve has been delivering project management in town centres and in digital connectivity. He is a Member of the Institute of Economic Development and is qualified in Rural Practice Surveying. He is a keen fell runner and is working his way through the Munros.

Lesley Riddoch

esley Riddoch is one of Scotland’s best known commentators and broadcasters.  She was assistant editor of The Scotsman in the 1990s (and editor of the Scotswoman in 1995 when female staff wrote, edited and produced the paper) & contributing editor of the Sunday Herald.  She is best known for broadcasting with programmes on BBC2, Channel 4, Radio 4 and BBC Radio Scotland, for which she has won two Sony speech broadcaster awards.

Lesley runs her own independent radio and podcast company, Feisty Ltd which produces a popular weekly podcast and was a member of the 3 year EU-funded Equimar marine energy project. Lesley is a weekly columnist for the Scotsman and National and a regular contributor to the Guardian, Scotland Tonight, Question Time and Any Questions. Lesley is Director of Nordic Horizons, a policy group which exchanges expertise between the Nordic nations and Scotland and is completing a PhD supervised by Oslo and Strathclyde Universities. She founded the charity Africawoman and the feminist magazine Harpies and Quines and was a member of the Isle of Eigg Trust, which led to the successful community buyout in 1997. She wrote Riddoch on the Outer Hebrides in 2007 and published Blossomwhat Scotland needs to Flourish with Luath in 2013 and Wee White Blossom -- what post referendum Scotland needs to Flourish in Dec 2014. Her website is www.lesleyriddoch.com and her blog is Another Side of Lesley Riddoch www.lesleyriddoch.co.uk

She is a patron of Scottish MND and lives in Fife with her husband and podcast sparring partner Chris Smith.

David Smith

Since 2011 David Smith has worked at the Cultural Enterprise Office where he is now Head of Programmes.  For the last 3 years he has chaired the board of The Stove Network in Dumfries.  From 2001 to 2011 he was a film producer founding the award winning Film Company Brocken Spectre which produced the feature film ‘Shell’ by writer and director Scott Graham.  He was the Administrative Producer of Suspect Culture Theatre company from 1995 to 2001 which he founded with the writer David Greig and director Graham Eatough. He lives near the town of Thornhill in Dumfries and Galloway with his wife and two daughters.  David believes in towns.

Professor Leigh Sparks

Leigh Sparks is Professor of Retail Studies and a Deputy Principal at the University of Stirling. He has been a Visiting Professor at Florida State University and the University of Tennessee; is Editor of a leading European retail journal and on the editorial boards of major marketing and management journals. Leigh’s research into the implications of spatial structural change in retailing has been funded by ESRC, EPSRC and MRC. He has edited several books, published over 125 refereed journal articles and runs a retail blog (www.stirlingretail.com). Leigh is Chair of Scotland’s Towns Partnership and an advisor to the Scottish Government on retailing and town matters.

Kevin Stewart

Kevin Stewart is the Scottish Government’s Minister for Local Government and Housing. He has served in the Scottish Parliament as the member for Aberdeen Central since 2011.

Before his election to the Scottish Parliament, he was previously the Depute Leader of Aberdeen City Council and served as a local councillor for more than eleven years. As a councillor, he chaired the Finance and Resources Committee and the North East of Scotland's Regional Transport Partnership, NESTRANS.

He was the Convenor of the Local Government and Regeneration Committee in the last Parliament and also sat on the Welfare Reform and Justice Sub-Committee on Policing.  He was appointed as Minister for Local Government and Housing in May 2016.

Jarmo Suominen

Jarmo Suominen has background from Architecture and Design and is working now in both of these fields. His research of service logic in architecture and design will enable service driven urban development in novel and sustainable way. Current research is focusing to the new ways of learning, working, and living based on service logic and innovation. He has received numerous grants and over 5 million euros worth of direct funding for research projects he has led.  He had strong understanding both of academic requirements and practicalities of business life.

He has led various multidisciplinary projects between industry, academia and public organizations. Jarmo Suominen has won numerous architectural competitions and has got prizes from 20 architectural and design competitions.

Since 1999 Jarmo Suominen has been working in Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT as a visiting scientist in MIT Media Lab and from 2002 as professor in University of Art and design, now part of Aalto and Department of Architecture in Aalto. Since 2012 he has been working with Tongji university, and from 2015 got High end foreign expert status from China Foreign experts Bureau and is now professor at Tongji Design & Innovation. He has a practice focused on service innovations in architecture since 2001. He is a board member of Radical Design Week and is now preparing a Sino Finnish Challenge program for 2017 in China.

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