In a letter to the Online Community’s forum Vox Pop, St Margarets Councillor Simon Lamb has posted a letter titled "The decision to abolish the Town Center Manager posts" to explain his reasoning for the dismissals and the way forward.

On the current system

One of the most important weaknesses in our current approach is that the vast majority of businesses pay absolutely nothing to support the TCMs. Businesses take the view that such matters can be left to others or that they are prepared to fund initiatives but not salary costs. In Twickenham this year the Festival cost £7500 (partly funded by a Civic Pride grant from the Council) and Christmas promotions will cost £5000. Of a total budget of nearly £48,000 just 25% is spent on initiatives of most value to businesses (smaller sums are spent producing booklets, supporting a website and the like).

On the future

Reports that this proposal originated at the October Strategy and Resources meeting are not correct. That meeting discussed 4 options but this proposal is the result of further discussions with senior Council officers and Cabinet colleagues. Indeed, one counter proposal tabled at the committee meeting was for TCMs to be directly employed by the Council on a full time basis. This suggestion by Cllr Carr is likely to add at least 50% to the costs of employing TCMs, so a revised budget would be closer to £100 000 than the current £60 000. We cannot afford such largesse, which is both unwarranted and unnecessary.

We feel these proposals are fair to businesses in the Borough, show that the Council is serious about promoting the economic vitality of our Towns and represent good value for money at a time when economies need to be made.

The period of consultation ends on 21 November. I have already met the TCMs for Richmond and Twickenham to hear their views of our proposal and would welcome further comments and suggestions before the above date. The Cabinet will then make a final decision at its next meeting in December.

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