Sunderland BID boss made redundant

Ken Dunbar

Ken Dunbar

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The chief executive of Sunderland city centre's Business Improvement District (BID) has been made redundant.

The BID today released a statement confirming it had parted company with Ken Dunbar.

"Following a Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID) Board meeting, it was agreed that – two years into the BID’s term – it was necessary to review the direction and structure of the organisation, to ensure it is equipped to meet the board’s ambitious aims for the city centre into the future.

"Following a consultation process, it has been agreed by the board that the role of Chief Executive Officer will be made redundant with immediate effect and that a new structure will be put in place, which will see the appointment of a Head of Business Operations to take over the day-to-day running of the BID, with a redefined role and objectives.

"Sunderland BID remains absolutely paramount to the ongoing regeneration of our city centre, and to creating a vibrant and prosperous place that can be enjoyed by all. The new structure reflects this ambition, and will allow an increased focus on operational delivery and marketing, which we believe will offer the best possible return on your investment.

"It has been agreed that BID directors Andy Bradley, Harry Collinson and Sharon Appleby will take over the running of the BID on an unremunerated basis, to ensure that the team have very clear direction and can deliver the best support to the city centre business community, until the Head of Business Operations is in post."

The Echo contacted Mr Dunbar but he said he was unable to comment.

Sunderland Bid was set up in 2013, after winning the backing of city centre businesses in a vote.

The scheme sees more than 450 businesses paying a 1.5 per cent levy on their business rates, which is used to fund improvements and events such as the recent big TV screen in Park Lane.

Ken Dunbar was appointed in January 2014 and told the Echo he was looking forward to the challenge: "The thing that stood out for me is that it is a very friendly place – wherever you go, people are genuinely very engaged,” he said.

"But there is almost a self-deprecating attitude and that is one of the things that needs to change.

"Businesses have been very open. They have huge expectations and one of the things I have got to do is manage that in the short term.”

"I have got ideas about how things can be improved. There is a genuine commitment to make this work.

"I can see the areas that need to be improved and the buildings that need to be better looked after, but these are all fixable."