Sunday, 17 December 2017

Councillors call for town manager role to be full-time

HENLEY’S town centre manager should be given more responsibility and become full-time, say councillors.

HENLEY’S town centre manager should be given more responsibility and become full-time, say councillors.

Peter McConnell took over the role in April last year and has come up with initiatives to help traders, including a shopfront improvement scheme and a craft fair to be held next spring.

Councillor Jeni Wood told a meeting of the town council’s town and community commitee that the job should be made full-time. “I think it works so well,” she said. “Pete McConnell has been an excellent town centre manager but he doesn’t have enough time to do everything.”

Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak suggested widening the brief, saying: “You might consider making it town manager rather than town centre manager. There are some very high-quality businesses not in the centre.”

Mr McConnell, 50, a marketing expert who lives in King’s Road, receives a package worth £16,000 a year to work 18½ hours a week on a two-year contract.

He reports to town council clerk Mike Kennedy and presents a report twice a year to a management board consisting of members of the town council, South Oxfordshire District Council and the Henley Partnership, which all contribute to his salary.

Cllr Wood and Mr Kennedy will meet with the district council next week to discuss the future of the position. Pam Phillips, who chairs the committee, said: “The meeting is to discuss and review what will happen in the future — it’s down to funding. I believe a town centre manager is a valuable asset.”

The position was created in 2010 by the district council together with equivalent roles in Wallingford and Thame. Branding and event management expert Oliver O’Dell was appointed in 2010 but resigned 18 months later after being criticised by town councillors for not doing enough to promote Henley.

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