Councillor calls for "transparency" at Gloucester BID after new manager appointed
By Mark Owen and Rob Freeman | 20th November 2020
Former interim Marketing Gloucester chairman Councillor Jennie Watkins hopes the appointment of a new manager will signal much-needed change at the city's Business Improvement District.
But she said concerns remain about the transparency of decisions made by the BID's board and new manager Emily Gibbon's links with the collapsed Marketing Gloucester and UK Digital Retail Innovation Centre (UK:DRIC).
Councillor Watkins said: "I personally congratulate Emily on her appointment as the new BID manager and appreciate her role is vital to help repair relationships across the city and deliver on their manifesto.
"But I remain very concerned and astonished at the lack of transparency by the board in many of their recent decisions.
"Emily was a senior member of staff at Marketing Gloucester and director of the UK:DRIC who established and oversaw the project until the company went into liquidation."
She continued: "Levy payers, including the city council, have paid more than £1million into the company since Emily and the former Marketing Gloucester chief executive set it up three years ago.
"Important lessons should be learned from the Marketing Gloucester fiasco in that private companies handling public money need to be open and accountable. I do not believe this is happening.
"Gloucester City Council is probably the only council in the country who are being denied representation at the BID board which would alleviate the concerns and restore collaboration with one of the key city stakeholders.
"I hope that this new appointment signals the change we are hoping for."
Councillor Watkins took over as interim chairman of Marketing Gloucester from former council leader Paul James in May 2019, months before chief executive Jason Smith and Richard Brooks - who kept the books - were sacked.
Marketing Gloucester, which was owned by the council and organised events such as the Tall Ships Festival, was declared insolvent in February owing almost £1million.
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