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Who's who in the Top 10?

By Herald Express  |  Posted: October 25, 2012

  • 3 Steve Parrock

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1 GREG FITZGERALD: chief executive of one of Britain's biggest and most successful construction companies Galliford Try which has started building the new Kingskerswell bypass.

He was Torquay educated and started his career with the former Midas group now Linden Homes, still part of Galliford Try, and which is still based at Decoy, Newton Abbot.

Galliford Try has projects around the world, from the Halley VI British Antarctic Research Station in Antarctica to the new £790million new Forth Bridge in Scotland.

Living at Ideford, he is passionately proud of South Devon, and personally delighted to be at the helm of the £110million road scheme which is seen as unlocking the area's true potential.

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The fact that Galliford Try is working with South Devon College to provide in-depth curriculum projects and apprenticeship opportunities is a reflection of the fact he sees the bypass as his legacy to his local community.

1 GORDON OLIVER: Elected Mayor of Torbay. After more than 30 years in local politics both as county and district councillor, he now has ultimate power at his finger-tips and is working around the clock to wield it.

Has the outright authority to decide on many issues in the Bay, for example throwing lifelines to the Riviera International Conference Centre and Plainmoor Pool.

Pledged to make council more transparent and inclusive, though critics claim the council is if anything less transparent than under the first mayor Nick Bye.

Gordon Oliver is also leader of ruling Tory group.

His mantra is to create new jobs by attracting inward investment and improving skills and opportunities of local work force.

He has supported some of the schemes already on the table when he was elected, such as the redevelopment of Oldway Mansion and Palm Court.

Born and educated in the Bay, well-known in local business man mostly running a property management and estate agency business.

Also had interests in tourism industry and former chairman of the Torbay Hospitality Association. Owns several properties. Has also been actively involved with voluntary organisations.

Member of the Lotus Cortina Owners' Club, Classic Ford Owners' Club and Jaguar Enthusiasts' Club.

3 STEVE PARROCK: Chief executive of the Torbay Development Agency.

It is his job to try to make Torbay fit for the 21st century with investment from the public and, most importantly, private sector — arguably the toughest public sector job in the Bay.

Has already helped to deliver major regeneration projects worth millions of pounds and creating hundreds of new jobs, such as the Innovation Centres.

Though proposals for a private-public partnership with development giants McAlpine fell through at the last hurdle when the company withdrew, the TDA is still heavily involved in negotiations with individual developers over ongoing developments such as Oldway Mansion, the Pavilion, Palm Court, Torwood Street and Clennon Valley.

Helping to bring to life the mayor's mantra of jobs, jobs, jobs.

Spent 16 years in the city of London working for investment bank Merrill Lynch and Barclays Capital.

4 CAROLYN CUSTERSON: Chief executive of the English Riviera Tourism Company.

Boss of her own tourism consultancy firm, she was enlisted by Torbay Council to resolve one of the resort's most difficult challenges — to unite the tourism industry which had been fragmented and run by various factions in recent years.

Drew up an action plan for the industry which led to the formation of the tourism company for which she became chief executive.

This summer's exceptionally bad weather means Torbay is not expected to see the overall growth in visitor numbers seen in 2011, the work done across the English Riviera and South Devon is resulting in much stronger performance than in the rest of the South West.

5 PAULA VASCO-KNIGHT: Chief executive at Torbay Hospital and in charge of one of the resort's biggest workforces — the South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation employs more than 3,500 people — with an estimated budget of £200million. Was previously deputy chief executive at Plymouth Hospitals Trust. Background in nursing. The mum-of-four from Liverpool has been driving modernisation programmes at the hospital which dates back to 1928 and has grown to look after 300,000 local people who go through its accident and emergency department every year.

One of most powerful women in the Bay but rarely appears in the public spotlight.

Nickname is Tigger because of her energy.

6 STEPHEN CRIDDLE: Principal at South Devon College.

Under his stewardship, the college continues to go from strength to strength. Has driven major change and been in charge of pioneering new developments at the Paignton campus.

The college is forging ahead with creating new opportunities for not just the Bay's but South Devon youngsters with the proposed new university technical college focusing on the engineering, water and environmental sectors and the proposed Devon Studio School for health services at Torbay Hospital as well as centres in Newton Abbot and Heathfield including Automotive and Motorcycle Skills Centre, Construction Skills Centre, the Hair and Beauty Skills Academy and the Into Education and training Skills Academy. The list is ever expanding.

As deputy for six years, he played a major role in transforming what was once a 'failed' college to 'outstanding' and then Beacon status.

Birkenhead-born and a father-of-three, he is passionate about his job and education.

7 JAMES CROSS: Well-known figure in Torbay's business community where he is joint managing partner and head of the litigation team at Kitsons solicitors.

A specialist in commercial litigation, employment and landlord and tenant law, he also has expertise in planning and road traffic legislation.

As chairman he is raising the profile of Torquay Chamber of Trade, taking a lead role in the campaign for a fairer parking regime in the town centres.

One of the main campaigners in the fight for a Kingskerswell bypass, he sees the new link road as being vital to the future economy of Torbay and South Devon.

8 ADRIAN SANDERS: Torbay's Liberal Democrat MP.

Ex-Torquay Boys' Grammar School pupil. Former Torbay councillor and party worker in Paddy Ashdown's office, broke the long-standing Tory stranglehold on the Bay.

First contested the seat in 1992, reducing the Tory majority to 5,787.

Stood in the 1994 Euro elections but in May, 1997, became Bay's MP for the first time beating Tory Rupert Allason by just 12 votes.

Four years later increased his majority to 6,708 and had successfully defended his seat twice in 2005 and 2010.

Former spokesman on housing and a regional whip, is party's spokesman on tourism.

Seen as an extremely good 'local' MP who reckons to have the ear of Ministers for the first time because of the Lib Dems' coalition with the Tories.

A campaigner on diabetes and animal welfare issues, he successfully pushed at Westminster for funding for the Kingskerswell bypass.

9 CHRIS HART: Managing partner of South Devon well-established South Devon law firm Wollen Michelmore which he joined in 1986.

He has special expertise in licensing and gambling work and has represented high-profile clients.

Chairman of the board of the English Riviera Tourism Company which has put the running of the Bay's once-fragmented holiday industry in the hands of the private sector.

Has stood firm against proposals for a major review of the company and tourism management suggested by Torbay mayor Gordon Oliver. Was on the board of the Riviera International Conference Centre until the mayor asked the board to stand down.

Trustee of the Friends of South Devon College.

Past president of the Devon and Exeter Law Society and currently chairman of the Devon and Somerset Law Society's practice sub-committee.

Married with two children, he is an avid Torquay United and West Ham fan and is on the committee of South Devon Cricket Club where his son plays.

10 VINCE FLOWER: Former Audley Park and South Devon College student who rose to become chief operating officer of the Shearings Group, with its 3,000 staff and £220million turnover.

His company brings Mr Flower, whose company brings 25,000 coach visitors and 14,000 self-drive customers to the resort each year.

Shearings has one million customers a year and 50 hotels at most of the major resorts in the country.

Flower is a board member of the new Torbay Economic Development Company and the English Riviera Tourism Company, reflecting the move for the two to work more closely together.

He is also chairman of governors at the newly launched Torquay Academy, formerly Torquay Community College, a role he also held at South Devon College.

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  • Sinjis_Things  |  October 25 2012, 12:25PM

    As John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834–1902) said, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

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  • realityzone  |  October 25 2012, 8:46AM

    An interesting list but who selected them and how? I don't recall there being any kind of vote on it

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