AN empty traders’ champion post will be filled, council bosses have said, following fears the under-review role will be axed.
Oxford City Council is seeking a new city centre manager after previous manager Gordon Reid stepped down in January.
The council and Oxfordshire County Council – which both fund the role – had the post under review.
They will not state what salary the role will command, but it is hoped the role, which was set up in 2010, will be filled soon after the Easter holidays. Interviews will take place next week.
During his time as city centre manager, Mr Reid – who left the area to be nearer his family – oversaw the introduction of ‘smart signs’ across the city centre.
The smart signs – built into the pavement – feature QR codes, which when scanned with a smart phone, will link to up-to-date information about events and activities, and there are 70 placed around the city.
Traders group ROX spokesman Graham Jones was concerned the role would be axed.
He said: “There were some messages a few months ago that they might drop the post because of budget constraints.”
“We have got a challenge with the Westgate development happening over the next four to five years and the redevelopment of the station.
“There are going to be a lot of pressures on the city centre so the manager needs to make sure it is viable while all these changes are taking place.
“We don’t want the message to go out that you shouldn’t go to Oxford because there are lots of roadworks going on.”
The Westgate Alliance has won planning permission for a £400m redevelopment of the shopping centre, including shops, cafes, restaurants and a cinema. Further permission will be needed for detailed designs. Network Rail is also drawing up plans to redevelop the train station by 2019.
Mr Jones added: “It would be good if they allowed the new manager to be a little bit more independent and not just a council officer.
“That’s something that I have stressed to the city council.”
Council executive member for city development Colin Cook said: “The city council was happy to continue with the role but it was being reviewed as to where we go with it.
“I think there may be a bit of a realignment about what we are expecting out of them because we are hiring a Covered Market manager, so that won’t be an area any city centre manager will have responsibility for.”
Council spokesman Chris Lee said: “The role has been advertised, closing date was last Friday.
“We are shortlisting this week with interviews in week after Easter.
“It has been agreed with partners that the role is largely unchanged.”