Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Meet Henley's new town centre manager

HENLEY?S new town centre manager says she wants to work closely with the business community.

HENLEY?S new town centre manager says she wants to work closely with the business community.

Rachel Rae, 28, has taken over from Peter McConnell, who left last month.

She will be interim manager until March 31 when Henley Town Council will review the contract with South Oxfordshire District Council, which part-funds the role.

Miss Rae, who lives in Wallingford, says she wants to improve signage and visitor information around the town and develop a festivals? forum, where organisers can share information and best practice. She was previously employed by the district council as the Wallingford market town co-ordinator as maternity cover.

She then continued to work for Wallingford Town Council as the event co-ordinator for the English Civil War re-enactment battle The Siege of Wallingford with the English Civil War Society. She said: ?I?m looking forward to getting stuck in and to getting to know the town.

?My last role had the advantage that I lived in Wallingford. Here I understand more about the job, I just need to understand the town now. I?m not afraid to introduce myself and get myself known.

?I want to get everyone working as one unit to try to achieve the best outcome for the town to increase footfall and publicise and market Henley.

?I?m keen to listen to the businesses. I?m fully aware that I don?t run a business, and have never run a business, so I don?t want to be preaching to people but there are so many different ways that businesses can support each other. We can tap into their different experiences and knowledge. I think it?s always worth having business feedback.

?I also think it?s important to support the businesses that are on the outskirts of town ? we don?t want them to miss out on the footfall.?

Miss Rae, who studied tourism management at the University of Hertfordshire, said the town council also wanted to improve visitor experience and footfall in the town, particularly in Friday Street.

?We?ve had a company come in and analyse all the signs and show that some of them are in the wrong place and some could be relocated,? she said. The council?s town map would also be re-designed, she said.

Mr McConnell, a 52-year-old marketing expert, of King?s Road, Henley, has moved away to take up a new job.

He took over the position from Oliver O?Dell in April 2012 and had his contract renewed for two years in April last year.

The position of town centre manager was created in 2010 by South Oxfordshire District Council together with equivalent roles in Wallingford and Thame.

Branding and event management expert Mr O?Dell was the first town centre manager but resigned after 18 months after criticism by councillors.

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