Hunt on for £40k city guru

Farmers markets in Ripon market square have ended due to poor attendances.
Farmers markets in Ripon market square have ended due to poor attendances.

Major plans to shake up Ripon’s economic future are in motion as the city council begins its hunt for a development supremo.

The council has released details of its search for a £40,000 ‘City Development Manager’ to re-invigorate shopping and tourism in Ripon.

The manager will be at the head of a push to make Ripon North Yorkshire’s “Capital of Culture and City of Enterprise”, a council statement said, and councillors want work to start this spring.

The three-year project is set to cost £180,000, it has been revealed, including a £40,000 annual salary and around £15,000 per year for projects and events to boost Ripon’s economy.

The cost will be met by the parish precept – a surcharge added to council tax bills that goes direct to Ripon City Council’s coffers – which will rise by 35 per cent to fund the scheme.

The new job is set to make ambitious changes to Ripon’s economy as the council aims to transform the city into a “world class centre for business, visiting and living” and a “world class tourist destination” by making the most of some of the city’s “under used” facilities, the job description says.

The new manager will work with the three local councils – Ripon, Harrogate and North Yorkshire, – as well as organistions like Ripon’s development body GRIP (Greater Ripon Improvement Partnership) and the Chamber of Trade, and will be responsible for improving and promoting the city.

Ripon could also be part of the Government’s flagship Neighbourhood Plan scheme for involving communities in planning for their area’s future.

The city council applied for the pilot scheme in November, and if it is successful the new manager will play a part in developing a neighbourhood plan for Ripon.

In December last year, city councillors voted to raise the precept by £44,000 to £168,000 for 2012/13 – resulting in a 20p-a-week increase on council tax bills for the average household – in order to raise enough money to employ a city manager.

The decision came after a campaign from the city’s Chamber of Trade, which wanted to see a professional come into Ripon to tackle economic under-performance and manage assets like the market square.

It also followed a summit organised by Ripon MP Julian Smith to encourage businesses, local government and other organisations to work together to turn around the city’s fortunes.

Business leader Barry Dodd, of North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and tourism expert Peter Dodd (no relation), from tourist board Welcome to Yorkshire, both spoke on the day and implored the city’s leaders to come up with a solid strategy for Ripon.

Now both men will sit on the selection panel hunting for the City Development Manager, alongside three Ripon councillors – Couns Mick Stanley, Alan Skidmore and Andrew Williams – and Harrogate Borough Council Chief Executive Wallace Sampson.

Coun Stanley, the Mayor of Ripon, said: “It’s a local government job so it is right that we have local government representatives on the panel, but we also have business and tourism expertise in Barry Dodd and Peter Dodd.”

However, the plans have been met with caution by some residents. A former Mayor of the city – David Parnaby – has questioned the need for a dedicated city manager in Ripon.

He said: “Why should the citizens of Ripon have to employ someone to develop the economy of Ripon when there is an Economic Development Unit in Harrogate Borough Council?”

He has also called on the council make their plans more transparent and to let residents have their say on the city’s future.

l Further details on the post and essential and desirable qualities required are avaiable from the Acting Clerk, Ripon City Council, Town Hall, Ripon, N Yorks, HG4 1DD or