Bingley Chamber of Trade president Howard Martin: ‘Town is suffering without a manager’ (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bingley Chamber of Trade president Howard Martin: ‘Town is suffering without a manager’
A business leader claims Bingley ’s high street is suffering because Bradford Council has been dragging its feet over the appointment of a new town centre manager – more than 13 months after its previous manager stepped down.
Howard Martin, president of Bingley Chamber of Trade, said the town needed a manager as an “essential point of contact” for businesses to access Council funding.
A total of £22,000 was earmarked in Bradford Council’s budget six months ago to employ a part-time manager for Bingley, after the previous holder of the post, David Dinsey, left in May 2011.
Mr Martin said: “There is nobody batting on Bingley’s behalf and, as far as I know, nothing has happened to appoint anybody new.
“We have been pushing for an appointment as soon as possible, but nothing as yet has materialised. The process is taking longer than we had hoped for. You get the impression that, if this goes on much longer, they may say it is not worth appointing anyone this year and look at next year to get somebody in place.”
He added: “The money was earmarked for supporting Bingley by paying the town centre manager every month, so the Council is saving about £2,000 a month. As far as I can see, that money is not going back into Bingley.”
A town centre manager would provide a link to the Council for businesses, with ideas to improve the economy of the town, which has lost its major employer, Bradford and Bingley, as well as shops, pubs and the Royal Mail sorting office in the past few years, said Mr Martin.
He spoke out following discussions in Ilkley about whether to appoint a town centre manager on a £36,000 salary. Discussions are at an early stage and it has not yet been decided whether an Ilkley manager would be funded by the Council or by public and private money.
Mr Martin said: “If Ilkley was to get a full time manager, I would be asking for explanations as to where the money is coming from, why Ilkley deserves a full-time manager and what singles out Bingley as the poor relation.”
A Bradford Council spokesman said the authority would be “recruiting shortly” but said that the post has been advertised internally first.
‘New boss could boost trade’
A new town centre manager could command a salary of up to £36,000 a year, a councillor has suggested.
The salary was one of several ideas put forward by Coun Steve Butler at a meeting of Ilkley Parish Council, as it discussed proposals for a manager in the town for the first time.
Coun Butler said managers could be funded by Bradford Council or by the parish council, while businesses could also pay a type of precept, which would be ploughed back into Ilkley.
He said a manager could take on roles including linking co-ordinating organisations, boosting tourism and helping business. “It’s held to be an important role elsewhere and I’m surprised it’s not considered important here,” he said.
But the council’s vice-chairman Coun Mike Gibbons said he was against paying someone £36,000 a year for a role he did not feel was needed. He said organisations already worked well without any help and not everybody in the town wanted to see more tourism.