Meet the
Independent Panel

The Independent Panel is directing the review, along with work on the Environment and Public Service Reform. Their objectivity and expertise are instrumental in delivering a successful review.

Rowena Burns

Panel Chair

Rowena Burns is the Chair of Health Innovation Manchester, the organisation responsible for delivering proven innovations into Greater Manchester’s health and social care sector and an approach to drive growth, which involves extensive joint working with the city’s universities, local authorities, major hospitals, and industry partners. Rowena has an impressive track record in senior leadership, including previous roles as Group Director of the Manchester Airports Group and Chief Operating Officer of Bruntwood. From 2012, Rowena was the Chief Executive and later, Chair of Manchester Science Partnerships (MSP).

Sir Howard Bernstein

Sir Howard Bernstein is the former Chief Executive of Manchester City Council (1998-2017) and former Head of Paid Service for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (2011-2017).

One of the chief architects of Manchester’s resurgence over the last four decades as well the GM devolution deal, Bernstein now serves as a strategic advisor to several public, private and academic institutions in the UK and internationally specialising in health and social care, government reform and devolution, and regeneration. Roles include acting as a strategic advisor to Deloitte, Professor of Politics at Manchester University and an advisor to Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. He is also heavily involved in the Northern Powerhouse Partnership and various other advisory groups across the north.

Graham Biggs

Graham is the Chief Executive at the Rural Services Network. He is experienced in the management and delivery of services across sparsely populated rural districts, having spent over 20 years as the Chief Executive of the former South Shropshire District Council and in 1995 was awarded an MBE for services to local government.

Graham is also a Director of the National Centre for Rural Health and Care, an Executive Committee member of the National Rural Crime Network and a Principal Advisor to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Rural Services.

Professor Rachel Cooper OBE

Rachel Cooper OBE is Professor of Design Management and Policy at Lancaster University and Director of Imagination Lancaster, a design-led research centre. Rachel’s research covers design management and policy across all sectors of industry, with a specific interest in design for wellbeing and socially responsible design, especially in relation to city and urban environments. Rachel currently leads Lancaster’s contribution to The PETRAS National Centre of Excellence that exists to ensure that technological advances in the Internet of Things (IoT) are developed and applied in consumer and business contexts, safely and securely.

Professor Cooper has undertaken several advisory roles to national and international universities, government and non-governmental organisations. Until 2020, Rachel was Non-executive Director of the Connected Places Catapult. She is currently a visiting Professor at the Royal College of Art (RCA) and a member of RCA Council and member of the council of Norwich University of the Arts.

John Holden

John Holden is the Associate Vice-President for Major Special Projects at the University of Manchester and supports the University to attract national and international activities to the University and region. John works closely with leaders across the University and collaborates on cross-institution initiatives and with a wide range of external stakeholders including regional and national government and private, commercial and charitable organisations in the UK and globally.

John has extensive regional and national policy experience, with expertise in devolved regional policy. His previous roles include senior strategy and research roles at the New Economy think tank promoting regional growth and prosperity and most recently as the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s Assistant Director for Strategy/Research.

Neil McInroy

Neil McInroy is a leading commentator on economic development and public policy with over 25 years of involvement in public sector policy. During this time, he has collaborated with a broad range of local, regional and national governments and agencies across the UK and in Europe, Asia, US and Australasia.

Neil is currently the Chief Executive of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies. As of July 2021, he will become a strategic advisor to the organisation and a member of its Board of Trustees.

Henri Murison

Henri Murison is the first permanent director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) and is tasked with leading the organisation’s work across the north.

Over the past decade, Henri has held senior public policy roles in both the public and private sectors across the North of England. These include: serving as Labour Councillor and Cabinet member for Quality of Life at Newcastle City Council, Research Director at the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, and led on Public Affairs at the Yorkshire Building Society, focusing on issues such as devolution in Yorkshire, housing and transport.

David Taylor CBE

David Taylor CBE is one of the country’s leading exponents of urban regeneration and he has worked extensively in the public, private and voluntary sectors. He was the founding CEO of English Partnerships [now Homes England]. He has built a portfolio of companies in the green and environmental sectors.

David holds a portfolio of Chair roles which include: Chairman of Preston based David Taylor Partnerships (DTP) Ltd; Chair of the UCLAN Board of Governors; Chair of the Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership; and Deputy Chairman of Preston North End FC.

I look forward to working with partners, organisations and local people to ensure the review offers a representative and credible analysis, and a firm foundation for Lancashire’s recovery and future development.

Rowena Burns, chair of the Independent Panel