West Midlands Regional Advisory Board

The main purpose of our regional advisory board is to connect people and communities with the local canals and rivers here in the West Midlands region.

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Upcoming meetings

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Our boards give local people:

  • a voice in developing and improving their waterways
  • a chance to connect with their waterside communities
  • an opportunity to help guide our decisions and strategies
  • the ability to support and champion the waterways in this region

Meet our regional advisory board members

Chair - Peter Mathews, CMG

Chair of the Black Country Consortium, chairman and managing director of Black Country Metals, and is the immediate past president of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce.  A prominent business leader, Peter has held the position of chair at various national and international organisations including the World Recycling Conference, UKTI Advanced Engineering and the Midlands World Trade Forum.

Philip Bateman MBE

Currently a Labour Party Councillor for Wednesfield North in the City of Wolverhampton. A former Mayor of the City of Wolverhampton, awarded an MBE for services to the region's transport in 2004. Previously the Director of Public Affairs at Travel West Midlands, leaving the National Express Group in 2008. Now self-employed operating Phil Bateman Consultancy, working closely with public transport companies including the Confederation of Passenger Transport.

Len Cresswell

Len was a lecturer at South Birmingham College for 30 years teaching engineering initially and later became Director of Staff Training. Whilst working with young people he also worked as a volunteer youth worker for 18 years. He was involved in local politics as a Parish Councillor for 26 years and a Borough Councillor for seven. As a keen boater, Len applied to become a member of the West Midlands Waterways Partnership and enjoyed the various activities and meeting other members. He was responsible, with a local police officer, for setting up The Canal Watch Scheme in Solihull. This unique scheme is now being rolled out across the West Midlands.

Graham Fisher MBE

Graham is a writer and broadcaster specialising in inland waterways with an interest in the industries they served, particularly Stourbridge Glass. He has written nine books. A lifelong enthusiast, his extensive involvement includes past-Chairman of Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal Society. He received the MBE for services to inland waterways in 2001 and in 2005 was voted Inland Waterways Personality of the Year. He is honoured in Stourbridge on the Living Literature installation in the town centre. Graham has made numerous television appearances including contributions to the pioneering Waterworld. He broadcasts on Black Country Radio and narrates podcasts for West Midlands History.

Ewan Hamnett

Now a retired GP, Ewan previously worked as a partner at Lordswood Practice, Harborne from 1988-2014. Ewan's current role as Champion for Physical Activity in Birmingham arose after a meeting with a then cabinet member for sport and activity and he has spent the last year and a half meeting anyone involved with activity across the city. A summary of Ewan's role is trying to create synergy between the many organisations across Birmingham. Ewan is also on the board of a national organisation called UK Active.

John McNicholas

John has been a member of the Council for Lower Stoke since 1986, prior to which he was a shop steward at Jaguar Cars. He has held many responsible positions for the City Council including Chair of P&A, Environment and more recently Transportation. John’s appointment will fill a much-needed gap in Coventry as they run up to the City of Culture in 2021.

Imran Mirza

Imran is a Police Officer who works within a partnerships team having responsibility for several portfolios such as crime and anti-social behaviour, licensing, Restorative Justice and Designing out crime. He successfully launched Canal Watch across the West Midlands in collaboration with the Canal & River Trust Partnership team and a range of other partners.

Laura Shoaf

Strategic Director of Transport for the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority, Laura is responsible for the provision of transport policy and strategy advice to the ITA, the Leaders, and Chief Executives of the West Midlands. Laura works collaboratively across the Local Authorities, LEPs and other partners to ensure the best possible outcomes for the West Midlands.  A chartered member of the Royal Town Planning Institute, Laura has over 20 years of international experience in delivering integrated economic and spatial regeneration.

John Yates

John Yates was born in 1946 and has had a lifetime’s involvement in the historic environment, and industrial heritage in particular. He is now retired, after a career that included 27 years as an English Heritage/Historic England Inspector. He is a former Chair of The Institute of Historic Building Conservation, who nominated him for our council. He has also served on the trust's Heritage Advisory Group, North Wales and Borders Partnership, Montgomery Canal Partnership and Historic Boat Advisory Panel. He and his wife Sue have been boaters since the 1970s, and own historic narrow boat ‘Buckden’.  

Last date edited: 15 June 2018