Call for Gloucester BID to be "reinvented"
By Mark Owen and Rob Freeman | 19th October 2020
Gloucester BID is advertising for a manager - with the leader of Gloucester City Council calling for the organisation to be "reinvented".
The advert on the city's Business Improvement District website said the successful applicant would lead the organisation - funded by a levy from firms within the BID area - until the next ballot on whether to continue in July 2022.
The role, which is advertised with an annual salary up to £40,000, would continue for a further five years if the ballot is successful.
The advert reads: "The Gloucester BID is a business-led, business-funded body dedicated to the improvement of the city's retail, tourism and evening economies and the welfare of all businesses located within the city's commercial centre.
"In a Covid-hit world, it's crucial we're making the most out of the approximately £500,000 annual budget."
But Councillor Richard Cook, leader of Gloucester City Council, believes the whole organisation needs to be changed.
He said: "The BID needs to be reinvented in Gloucester. At the moment it doesn't appear to deliver what its members intended".
Mr Cook was speaking after passing on a report compiled by the BID into the collapse of Marketing Gloucester to Gloucestershire police.
He said: "The moment I read the report, I felt it needed to be handed to the police.
"It wasn't my report it was the BID's report and I encouraged them to hand it over to the police themselves. I spent several weeks trying to persuade the BID Board to hand it over.
"I understand the reasons that they gave me but I don't accept them."
He continued: "It's not for me or for the BID board to decide if crimes have been committed, that's for the police to decide. I was concerned as soon as I read the report."
Marketing Gloucester, which was owned by the council and organised events such as the Tall Ships Festival, was declared insolvent in February after its financial position became untenable.
Chief executive Jason Smith was sacked at the end of 2019 along with Richard Brooks, who kept the books.
Punchline-Gloucester.com reported that a leaked report - which outlined Marketing Gloucester owing nearly £1million - showed the extent of the financial problems was still not clear due to "a myriad of potential unidentified costs" relating to the UK Digital Innovation Centre.
The problems with Marketing Gloucester first rose to prominence when the company approached the council for a £224,000 loan in early 2019.
Former council leader Paul James stood down from his role on the board in May 2019.
Keith Graham, who runs Morgan DeVere Menswear in Northgate Street and is among the city businesses who pay the BID levy, has called on the current board to stand down and fresh elections to be held.
He said: "Now is the time for all concerned citizens of Gloucester to stand up and demand better for this great city."
The BID is designed to allow businesses in the city centre to decide and direct what they want for the area with the board drawn from members.
Businesses in the area hold a ballot to decide if the scheme will continue every five years.
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