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The Isle of Wight Council has recruited a director and assistant director of regeneration to lead a major new regeneration programme designed to attract investment to the Island and create jobs and other financial and community benefits over the next decade.

Chris Ashman was appointed as director by the Employment Committee following a rigorous selection process and will start work in January 2017. Chris has over 25 years’ experience in social and economic regeneration, most recently leading on regeneration plans across Wales and in London, assisting 2 local authorities to access over £15 million of regeneration funding from the Welsh government.

He has run his own business since 2011, providing bespoke project consultancy in economic and community regeneration, working with public, private and third sector organisations.

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Reniera O’Donnell will be the new assistant director of regeneration. She has worked in the regeneration sector for the past 15 years, with a specialist knowledge of housing and housing regeneration. She has worked as a senior manager within local government for the past 7 years, most recently as a group manager for strategic housing in Kingston Upon Thames. She is also an independent board member for the Poole Housing Partnership, ensuring that the partnership’s work is undertaken correctly.

Councillor Jonathan Bacon, leader of the Isle of Wight Council said:

“The council’s updated medium term financial plan, approved in October, set out a very clear strategy for funding and sustaining the provision of council services, centred around regeneration activities to improve the Island’s overall economic wellbeing and the local tax base. The alternative to achieving a balanced budget, where expenditure matches the income received by the council, would be to continue to reduce and cut services – something we want to avoid.”

Councillor Julia Baker-Smith, Executive member for regeneration, housing and transport, said:

“The recruitment of a director of regeneration and support staff is a significant key step forward for the council as it creates capacity for the council to identify and deliver significant schemes on the Island while promoting the Island as ‘open for business’ to regional, national and international business. They will be an important link between us and all of our key stakeholders, ensuring that everyone is involved with and contributes to the overall economic improvements we are seeking for the whole community”.

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John Metcalfe, chief executive at the Isle of Wight Council, added:

“Over the past year we have developed bold and ambitious plans to create a prosperous and sustainable Island based on the key themes of regeneration, growth and productivity. Chris and Reniera will give us the capacity and focus to deliver these plans and the council’s aspirations. They will be pivotal in identifying and delivering key regeneration projects on the Isle of Wight in order to attract new business, create jobs, increase personal wealth and grow the council’s income which will enable key services to continue to be delivered for Island residents. I am really excited about these appointments and am looking forward to welcoming them to the authority early next year.”

Chris Ashman, said:

“I am looking forward to using my experience to bring important investment to the Island and kick start a number of regeneration projects with both the public and private sectors for the benefit of the Island’s community. The council has already made good progress in identifying key regeneration projects which focus on maximising income and revenue through the innovative use of council land and assets – I will be working with my new team to progress these as quickly as possible with the support of members , local business and the wider community.”

More information about the Isle of Wight Council’s regeneration plans can be found at

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