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Solent Growth Forum Ex-Officio Members

Stuart Baker

Head of Local Growth, Solent LEP

Stu was appointed to Head of Local Growth in March 2014. Prior to this, Stu had worked for the Solent LEP since July 2013, seconded from Solent Transport for two days per week, providing the LEP Board with strategic transport advice and support. During that time, Stu also managed Solent Transport (formerly TfSHIoW), which is the strategic transport planning partnership of the four Local Transport Authorities of the Solent area. Before taking up the TfSHIoW role, Stu held transport planning posts at Hampshire County Council and at District Councils, so has worked across the local authority spectrum.

Prior to his career in transport, Stu worked as a secondary and sixth-form teacher of Geography at three schools in England and Wales, as a commercial insurance underwriter at Axa, and as a commercial insurance team leader at Aon. Stu has two degrees, a BA in Geography from the University of Portsmouth and an MSc in Transport Planning and Management from the University of Westminster. He was also one of the first in the country to be awarded Transport Planning Professional (TPP) status, the professional qualification for transport planners.

Stu was born in Southampton and has lived in the area for most of his life.

Marc Griffin

Head of Capital and Infrastructure, Solent LEP

Prior to this appointment Marc has worked for both consultancy (WSP) and Local Authority (Isle of Wight Council and more recently Portsmouth City Council). At WSP Marc worked in a design team delivering a number of road, rail and private developments to improve infrastructure and transport. 

Marc joined the Isle of Wight Council in 2008 working for both the Highways design team and later with the Highways PFI team as Contract Manager. Prior to joining Solent LEP Marc worked at Portsmouth City Council as Assistant Head of Service responsible for Transport, Active Travel and Road Safety and Network Management Marc graduated from Portsmouth University in 2000 with a degree in civil engineering,  is a chartered civil engineer and was the South Branch Chairman for the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) in 2011/12 followed by the South East of England Regional Chairman for the ICE in 2012/13.

In his role he engaged with a number of special interest groups and stakeholders to promote Civil Engineering and infrastructure projects.

Chris Ward

Head of Finance and S151 Officer, Portsmouth City Council

Chris Ward is Portsmouth City Council’s statutory Chief Financial Officer. He has a duty to secure the proper administration of the Council’s financial affairs in all of its dealings as well as holding a fiduciary responsibility to local taxpayers and a duty to act in the public interest at all times. Chris is responsible for the Council’s overall financial strategy and for overseeing the Council’s £700m budget.

He has worked for the Council for 15 years, rising to his current position in September 2011. Before this, Chris spent 10 years with responsibility for Corporate Finance, Accountancy, Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable and throughout that period has been involved in, or been the financial lead, in almost every major project of the City Council. He is also a Director of MMD Limited, a fruit importing business which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the City Council.

Di Roberts

Principal & Chief Executive, Brockenhurst College

Di has been Principal and Chief Executive of Brockenhurst College since September 2006, having been Deputy Principal at the College from January 2004. Brockenhurst College, situated in the heart of the New Forest, is a Beacon College, providing education and training to over 3,200 full-time 16-18 year olds, 8,000 mainly part-time adults, 1,000 apprentices and over 350 local and regional businesses.

Di has taught across the ability levels and spent time as an Ofsted Inspector. She also has significant experience in business and training over a number of years. In 2011, Di was awarded the CBE in recognition of her services to further education. She is Deputy Chair of the national Association of Colleges and also chairs the Association of Colleges Learners with Learning Difficulties and Disabilities (LLDD) Portfolio Group.

John Ball

Policy Officer, SERTUC

John has retired from paid employment, but still actively represents the TUC and SERTUC on a number of bodies: Solent LEP ESF and Growth Fund; the HSE South East Stakeholders and South East Estate Excellence; nationally on the National Estate Excellence Board. He is also co-ordinator for SERTUC South East Trade Union Network. Before retiring, John worked as a TUC Policy Officer for the South East, working with SEEDA on economic development through the Social Dialogue Forum.

He has worked for the Public Services International Global Federation of Public Sector Trade Unions on the management of change from a command economy to a social market economy in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet countries, as well as in Africa on capacity building for Trade Unions.

As a former Trade Union Official for the GMB, John had national responsibility for the utilities industries. He also held responsibility for union membership in public and private sectors.

John represented Trade Unions on a number of bodies: South London Training and Enterprise Council; London South Learning and Skills Council. He was chair of London South LSC ESF Committee. He was a member of the TUC Race Advisory Committee and represented the TUC on the Manpower Commission Industrial Language Board. He was a Governor on Ruskin College, Oxford and of Southwark Further Education College.

Mike O'Neill

Environment Agency

Mike O’Neill has been the Environment Manager at the Environment Agency for Hampshire since September 2014. He runs a department responsible for protecting and enhancing the environment, looking after water quality, regulating large industrial sites and regulating waste sites. Before that Mike was an Operations Manager, responsible for operating and maintaining the Environment Agency’s flood risk assets. 

Mike first joined the Environment Agency in May 2002 as an Environment Officer, regulating waste operations and responding to water pollution incidents. Before that he worked for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food as an Animal Health Officer. Mike lives on the edge of the New Forest with his wife and two children.

Graham Galbraith

Vice-Chancellor, University of Portsmouth

Professor Galbraith joined the University of Portsmouth in September 2013. Previous to this he had held the sole Deputy Vice-Chancellor role at the University of Hertfordshire since 2008 and the role of Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) at Glasgow Caledonian University which he joined in 1993. He gained a BSc (1st class) in Environmental Engineering, an MSc, Mechanical Engineering and a PhD from the University of Strathclyde.

He has a wealth of management experience and a strong entrepreneurial outlook which, combined with a substantial record of academic achievement and a thorough understanding of the international and HE sectors, puts him in an ideal position to lead the University through its next stage of development.

Professor Galbraith has responsibility for the strategic direction of the University working with the Board of Governors and the senior management team which comprises the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Chief Operating Officer, Director of Finance, HR Director, University Secretary and Deans of Faculty who all report directly to him.

He is passionate about HE and its power to transform the life choices of individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds. He is committed to leading the University to provide the very best student experience underpinned by internationally excellent research and world class business engagement.

His primary research interests are within the area of Building Physics and Material Science with emphasis on moisture within building components and the development of appropriate prediction models and measurement techniques.

Tim Houghton

Chief Executive, Community First

Tim is a charity CEO with more than 15 years experience in leading and managing not for profit organisations in South Hampshire and London. Tim is currently CEO of Communities First Wessex, part of the Council of Voluntary Service network in Hampshire, an organisation that helps support other charities and community organisations across Havant, East Hampshire and Winchester Districts.

He was previously Executive Director at Groundwork Solent. Tim has a background in community development working mainly in disadvantaged communities and on neighbourhood regeneration programmes and champions the role that charities and voluntary organisations can play alongside statutory bodies to promote health and wellbeing, economic prosperity and social inclusion.  He is also a Trustee of the Rowner Community Trust in Gosport and The Wheatsheaf Trust based in Southampton, and is a representative of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector on Solent LEP’s ESIF Committee and Growth Forum. Away from work Tim enjoys sailing, running and tinkering with old Land Rovers.

Fiona Dalton



Fiona was appointed as Chief Executive in 2013. Prior to re-joining the Trust she held the combined position of deputy chief executive and chief operating officer at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children.


Fiona joined the NHS management training scheme after graduating from Oxford University with a degree in human sciences in 1994 and began her career in hospital management at Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust. She then spent four years at UHS as director of strategy and business development before moving to GOSH. 



Hannah Rignell

Assistant Director, South Central & West, Cities & Local Growth Unit - BEIS

Bruce Voss

Head of Area, Homes and Communities Agency

Robert Parkin

Corporate, Commercial and Regeneration Team Manager, Portsmouth City Council

Robert Parkin is Portsmouth City Council’s statutory deputy monitoring officer and the head of the commercial and regeneration team at Portsmouth City Council. Alongside a duty to monitor for the lawfulness of all of its dealings, he leads a team of experienced planning, property, procurement, highways, and commercial projects lawyers.

Robert worked for the Council for 3 years. Before this, Robert spent 3 years with a large London Borough Council, working on multidisciplinary projects, having before that worked with Bristol City Council, DEFRA legal, and the Office of the Local Government Ombudsman.