Concern for future of town manager post

AN Essex town could soon lose its town centre manager after a major slice of funding was withdrawn as part of budget cuts. Murray Foster has been Maldon's town centre manager since 2001 and is responsible for bringing in new business.

AN Essex town could soon lose its town centre manager after a major slice of funding was withdrawn as part of budget cuts.

Murray Foster has been Maldon's town centre manager since 2001 and is responsible for bringing in new business.

And as part of his work he has increased the number of companies donating money to be spent promoting Maldon to shoppers and visitors.

His role is jointly financed by the town's council, the district council and from the chamber of commerce.


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But the district council has now cut the £8,000 it pays as part of cost savings being implemented for the new financial year.

The town centre management role was created during the 1990s when there were difficult trading conditions and threats from out-of-town developments.

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But the district council said the situation was now “strong” with low levels of shop vacancy trading alongside two major stores - Tesco and Morrison's.

Maldon Town Council, which gives £10,500 towards the role, is due to meet tonight to discuss its contribution in light of the cut announced by the district.

Mr Foster, who does 20 hours a week and has an assistant who does a half-day, said even if his job goes, Maldon would benefit from the role continuing in some form.

He said: “I fully appreciate Maldon District Council has got a lot of difficult decisions to make and one of them was funding the town centre management role.

“At the moment it is going to be very challenging to carry out the role without the £8,000 from the district council.

“It is clear that the town centre manager role, whether me or somebody else, is beneficial to Maldon - yes there are very low vacancy rates, but there are still a lot of challenges compared to other big centres such as Colchester, Braintree and Chelmsford. It's a very competitive environment.”

He added it was not yet clear whether he could continue the job effectively working fewer hours.

“We have had a lot of support from business people saying they want the town centre management to continue,” he said.

Bob Boyce, leader of Maldon District Council, said in his budget statement: “The town centre is particularly strong with low levels of shop vacancy and remains as vibrant as ever, even with two large stores - Tesco and Morrison's - trading actively.

“We are in discussions with our partners, Maldon Town Council and the Maldon Chamber of Trade and Commerce about the future of support to businesses in the town centre.”

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