Stobart director takes Atlantic Gateway lead

Kate Willard, corporate affairs director and company secretary at Stobart Group and board member of the Liverpool Local Enterprise Partnership, is one of three new appointments to the Atlantic Gateway partnership.

Willard has replaced Geoff Muirhead, former chief executive of Manchester Airports Group, as chairman of Atlantic Gateway.

The board was established in 2012. The board membership will be further revised at the start of 2015 "to reflect increasing importance of LEPs and review of priorities", a spokesman said.

The other new board members, all on three-year terms, are Carmel Booth, a management consultant formerly at regeneration specialist Amion Consulting, who takes up an executive director role at Atlantic Gateway, and new government representative, Stephen Dance, head of Infrastructure UK, which is part of the treasury.

Leaving the board are Sami Istephan, formerly BT partnerships director who left Atlantic Gateway after joining Vodafone, and Baroness Williams of Trafford who has now taken up a broader portfolio at the House of Lords.

Atlantic Gateway encompasses major infrastructure and property development projects along the River Mersey and Manchester Ship Canal from Liverpool to Salford.

The public-private partnership board campaigns for investment and recognition from government of the economic benefits of the portfolio of projects, which include Langtree's Sci-Tech Daresbury science park near Warrington, Peel's port expansion plans for Liverpool, Birkenhead, Ellesmere Port, Salford and Warrington, and Stobart's multi-modal logistics park, 3MG, in Widnes.

Muirhead led Atlantic Gateway for the past three years. He said: "Kate will take over at Atlantic Gateway following a successful year which has seen the confirmation of a number of high profile investments including a recent announcement by the Chancellor of major investment in science and transport as part of his drive to build a Northern Powerhouse. Kate will play a leading role in ensuring that the Atlantic Gateway's growth strategy is at the heart of developments to create a viable alternative to the South including supporting the One North proposal which is being led by the five core cities of Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield to create a better connected and more powerful north."

Willard said: "There is renewed confidence about the future with a wave of major investment opportunities throughout the Atlantic Gateway area which will support growth and create jobs throughout the North West. I am looking forward to working with the LEP chairs and other partners as we define our shared priorities and set out an ambitious and practical framework for growth."

Robert Hough, chairman of the Liverpool LEP and a director of Peel, said: "Kate will be a great ambassador for the North West, championing investment and economic growth. Kate brings considerable experience in infrastructure and logistics, including her role on the LEP SUPERPORT Committee, which will enable the North West to maximise the opportunities on the back of investment into the area's international gateways including the Port of Liverpool and Manchester Airport."

Your Comments

Read our comments policy here

You must ask Kate about her Paul McCartney photo-op…

By Tony

Amion losing Carmel Booth must be a blow to them. A very capable woman.

By Peter Smith

We have LEPS, we have Combined Authorities, we have local authorities. But as for the Atlantic Gateway I really do not see the point of this organisation covering an area with no social, cultural or economic coherence. Pointless.

By Eyes Peeled