City manager quitting job after 10 weeks

Ripon City Development Manager Angela Harris.  (120726M8a)
Ripon City Development Manager Angela Harris. (120726M8a)
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Ripon’s newly appointed City Development Manager is leaving the post, she has announced just two-and-a-half months after starting work.

The city council began the hunt for a development tsar in February and appointed Angela Harris in a bid to radically shake-up Ripon’s economic future and tackle under performance in the city.

But in a joint statement this week they announced she is to leave the job and the council is to recruit for “a more clearly defined and focused post”.

The statement said: “Due to the strategic position of The Greater Ripon Improvement Partnership it is appropriate that the post of City Development Manager needs to be more focused on the co-ordination, development and delivery of the projects contained in the development plan rather than being a purely strategic post.

“For these reasons Angela has decided that her strategic skills and the ones required for the re-defined post are not the same and has chosen to not continue in post.”

But theMayor of Ripon, Coun Andrew Williams, who sat on the interview panel, disputed suggestions the original job description was different to the reality of the post.

“I don’t think it is down to that. As is sometimes the case when you take someone on, things didn’t work out as envisaged.”

Ripon’s parish precept – the surcharge added to council tax payers’ bills that goes direct to Ripon City Council’s coffers – was increased by 35 per cent in April to fund the scheme.

Coun Williams said the “vast majority” of the original £180,000 three-year budget for the project remains, and the council plans to re-advertise and re-appoint with a “tweaked” job description.

“I am quite certain that the idea of having a city manager is the right one and we will continue to advance the project,” he added.

Speaking to the Gazette for an online interview conducted before the announcement was made, Ms Harris said there would be no “quick fix” to the problems facing Ripon’s economy.

During her short time as city manager she has produced a detailed plan of development projects at work in Ripon and new initiatives to help the city, as well as working with Lightwater Valley to produce a ‘Discover Ripon’ promotional film.

Ms Harris will leave the post in a few months’ time, before which she will set up an administrative ‘hub’ for groups like GRIP and the Chamber of Trade and help the city council appoint a successor to her role.

See our interview with the city manager.