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Gloucestershire Business News

Lib Dems question council's economic appointment

Liberal Democrats on Gloucester City Council have raised concerns about a conflict of interest for the councillor appointed to lead the city's economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis.

Councillor Dawn Melvin

As reported on Punchline earlier this week, Conservative Councillor Dawn Melvin has been appointed cabinet member for economic recovery.

Her portfolio will include economic development, city centre management, licensing and environmental health, night-time economy, markets and street trading. liaising with business support organisations such as GFirst LEP and the Federation of Small Businesses.

But Liberal Democrats have questioned the conflict of interest as she owns Dr Foster bar and restaurant in Gloucester Docks among other business interests in the city.

Councillor Jeremy Hilton, leader of Gloucester's Liberal Democrats, has written to council leader Councillor Richard Cook asking him to reconsider the appointment.

He said: "I am concerned that Councillor Melvin has a perceived conflict of interest in relation to her own business interests, including running a popular city night spot.

"This may require her to declare that interest too many times to enable her to serve effectively in the cabinet in spearheading the economic recovery of Gloucester.

"There are three areas where this conflict of interest is most evident, which are city centre management, licensing and environmental health and the night-time economy."

He continued: "There is no doubt this economic recovery role is much needed in Gloucester as we slowly come out of the coronavirus lockdown.

"But I believe the city would be better served if the cabinet member did not have to spend so much of their time declaring their business interests when overseeing their portfolio and managing policies on licensing, the city centre and the night-time economy."

At the time of the appointment, Councillor Melvin said she was thrilled to take up the position.

Councillor Jeremy Hilton

She said: "It is a large, challenging portfolio which I will fully immerse myself in to with the same enthusiasm, determination, energy, and will to succeed that I have used as my ethos since I was elected in 2016.

"Economic recovery and growth following COVID-19 will challenge every business both large and small. It won't be overnight, but together we will get through this, as we always do in Gloucester.

"Gloucester City Council and I as the cabinet lead will be there to support and fight for our residents and businesses every step of the way."

Councillor Cook said: "Dawn's business background and expertise make her an ideal choice to represent the interests of businesses of all types and sizes within the city.

"This is a role that is needed to help us go through the recovery phases of the current public health crisis, which has affected residents and businesses alike.

"Dawn is already a great advocate for our local businesses and I'm sure this role, and her appointment to it, will be greatly welcomed by our colleagues, partners and the city as whole."

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