Doing without Bishop Auckland’s town centre manager would be like “sailing a ship without a captain”, a town businesswoman has declared.
Bernadette Rush, of Lady B Wear in Newgate Street, joined the former town’s mayor, Lesley Zair, in urging Durham County Council to think again about removing the post as part of cost-cutting measures. Bishop Auckland is the only town in County Durham to have a town centre manager, a post which was created by the now defunct Wear Valley District Council in 2001.
Current manager Steve McCormick has been in post for three-and-a-half years, but a 90-day consultation has now begun with the county council looking to “reshape” the service.
Bernie is calling on her fellow businesses men and women to show support for Mr McCormick and make their disapproval known. She said he had guided her in the creation of her dress shop and said the events organised by him were a big draw for visitors and, therefore, trade.
“It would be like running a factory without a manager, you cannot sail a ship without a captain, ” she said.
“I know other towns don’t have a manager, but Bishop Auckland is a big town, one of the biggest in the county in terms of retail space, and the manager is a real strong cog in trying to bring businesses into the town. If you take away the manager, this town will soon be forgotten.”
Coun Lesley Zair also said Bishop Auckland needed a town centre manager. “If we have a town manager it shows we are thriving and he puts on events that attract visitors to the town as well as liaising with the traders. He knows where is empty in the town and can help businesses move in. The role is vital for Bishop Auckland and to lose it would see us slipping backwards.”
The manager’s role is to attract visitors to the town and promote the town for businesses to invest in, as well as improve community spirit and pride.
Events organised by the town centre manager have included a fashion show, motor show, street entertainers, celebration events on Valentine’s Day and Halloween and a pancake race, although this year’s race was cancelled due to safety fears.
Peter McDowell, business services manager at Durham County Council, said a decision would be made in August and the consultation was part of a cost-cutting review. “We would like to reassure residents in Bishop Auckland that we will remain heavily committed to supporting the further development of Bishop Auckland town centre as a place to live and visit.”