There is a flower that strikes fear into the hearts of men. The imposing 5ft 11in. figure of Gwynneth Flower to be precise, chief executive of the Central London Training and Enterprise Council (CENTEC), the largest of Britain's 82 TECs. The ex-GEC Marconi director was brought in to set up CENTEC in 1990 and has run the TEC so well that her balance sheet shows a surplus. Despite this, the Establishment has taken affront at her outspoken opinions and radical ideas. A campaigner for all London causes, Flower hopes that the TECs can be partners in solving some of the capital's pressing problems. The all-speaking and no-doing powers, as she sees them, involved in Crossrail, Thameslink, Jubilee Line extension and the Channel Tunnel have all come under her fire.
Her criticism of the Government is candid and, it would seem, has been vindicated by last month's LSE study on Britain's TECs. 'The Government is paranoid about any move which it interprets as recreating the GLC,' Flower believes. Her efforts to help in the regeneration of London were greeted with suspicion in Whitehall, despite economic growth being part of the Government's original brief to the TECs. She admits to receiving an official warning - a stark 'any more of this and we'll turn your money off'. Flower replied that she would have sword blades fitted to the wheels of her car, and would change the name of CENTEC to the Iceni. 'Mrs Flower,' said the voice at the other end of the phone, 'you are not taking this seriously.'
They must have taken her seriously when they recruited her. At the interviews she made it clear that she saw her role as being critical of the Government; 'But then', she adds, 'perhaps my colours were not flying as boldly as they are today.'