Towns Fund - money to help us improve Rochdale

Rochdale Town Board members

Paul Simkiss - Owner, Simkiss Controls Limited

Chair of Rochdale Town Board

Paul grew up in Rochdale and started his career on a Youth Training Scheme (YTS) with Rochdale Training Association. He earned an ONC qualification in electrical engineering and went on to do an HNC qualification.

He set up Simkiss Control Systems in his back bedroom in the 1990s. The company designs, manufactures and installs electrical switchgear and control systems for industrial and utility businesses. The business became incorporated in 1999.

Paul is committed to the borough of Rochdale and bringing high-quality, skilled manufacturing jobs back to the borough. The company is based at Stakehill, Middleton.

Julia Heap - Principal and Chief Executive, Hopwood Hall College and University Centre

Julia started her career as an apprentice, studying at a local further education college. She's a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance Accountants and has worked in management and leadership roles across a number of large public sector organisations within Greater Manchester.

As a resident of Rochdale, Julia and her family are strongly rooted in both her surrounding community and Hopwood Hall College. A trustee of Your Trust and Springhall Hospice, she's a passionate advocate for positively supporting both the borough and the Greater Manchester community as a whole.

Paul Dixon - Partner, Molesworth Solicitors

Paul joined Molesworth Solicitors in 1980. He was admitted as a solicitor in 1982 and became a partner in 1985. He's the Head of Moleworth's Business Protection Unit.

Paul specialises in licensing and regulatory affairs, dispute resolution and general litigation matters.

Lorna Fitzsimons - Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership

Lorna is the Local Enterprise Partnership lead for the Office of Data Analytics and Digital Data Review.

She co-founded The Pipeline in 2012 to increase female executive leadership in big cap companies. The organisation runs a series of pioneering programmes for women and companies across the FTSE 350. The Pipeline works with boards, CEOs and their executive colleagues. They also work with individual women to help them prepare for leadership roles.

In addition to her work at The Pipeline, Lorna created and leads The Alliance Project, a public-private partnership investing over £150m in 330 companies, creating over 4,000 jobs to bring back textile manufacturing to the UK. She's also a Board Director of UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFT), the industry's trade body.

Lorna is a previous CEO of the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) and NED for Endsleigh Insurance.

Darren Grice - Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Your Trust

Darren is responsible for visitor economy and cultural development, partnerships and cultural services. This includes museums, galleries, live venues, outdoor events and festivals.

He's a member of the Greater Manchester Culture and Heritage Board, and a board member of Without Walls, a National Partnership organisation working to create, develop and tour innovative new work and invest in the growth of the outdoor arts sector. He relocated to the North West, having previously worked in the East of England.

In the course of his career in the creative and cultural sector, Darren has worked in creative education, visual arts, music education, dance and theatre. He's produced creative projects, events and festivals with a range of partners including The National Theatre, The Natural History Museum, Arts Award, Arts Council England, UK CC Skills and many others.

Councillor Neil Emmott - Leader of the council, Rochdale Borough Council

Neil was born at Fairfield Hospital and attended Cardinal Langley RC Grammar School in Middleton. He went on to achieve an honours degree in Modern Languages (Spanish, French and Catalan) from the University of Wales and studied at The Sorbonne in Paris and at Valencia University in Spain.

He's represented West Middleton on the council since 2010 and previously represented the former Heywood South Ward from 1986 to 1994.

He's worked as a Senior Caseworker for an MP and previously worked as community development officer for Cheshire, Halton and Warrington Race and Equality Centre and as project manager at Freehold Community Base in Rochdale.

Mark Robinson - Director of Economy, Rochdale Borough Council

As Director of Economy and Chief Executive of Rochdale Development Agency, Mark works closely with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) to establish the Atom Valley Mayoral Development Zone.

Mark advocates for a stronger economic role for the north and east of Greater Manchester urban area and leads on the delivery of Rochdale's 2030 Growth Plan and Rail Corridor projects. He is responsible for regeneration, land and property, planning, transport, infrastructure and skills.