Published at 13:10, Tuesday, 28 June 2011
THE former head of regeneration in Barrow was suspended after accusing Cumbria County Council of neglecting the town.
Barrow Regeneration boss Bob Pointing has spoken out for the first time after he was suspended from his job.
Barrow Borough Council’s chief executive, Tom Campbell, has since joined the row and criticised the county council’s “remote management” of Barrow’s regeneration. Mr Pointing was to be made redundant along with 10 others after funding was withdrawn from the Northwest Regional Development Agency.
But he was suspended just months earlier, and faced allegations of serious insubordination, engaging in conduct prejudicial to the reputation and integrity of the council and breaching trust and confidence – all of which he strenuously denies.
In an email to the county council, Mr Pointing said he was concerned with how his suspension had been handled.
He said he believed his email was taken personally and he was being disciplined because he dared to criticise the county council.
Mr Pointing also revealed that when Barrow Regeneration tabled a bid to the Regional Growth Fund for the Waterfront and Marina developments, he was told the county council could not support the application.
He said in his letter: “When this (the bid) was first discussed at a Barrow Regeneration board meeting in November 2010, we were astounded when a senior county councillor member of the board said ‘the county council cannot support this application’. This attitude was subsequently moderated but the county council neither offered nor provided assistance in making this application.”
Mr Campbell suggested the county council did not understand Barrow’s regeneration issues.
He said: “There is no doubt that the county council’s decision to remove all regeneration staff from Barrow is causing us difficulty in maintaining the momentum we had built up.
“The county council has retained a sizeable regeneration team but none of them are based within 50 miles of Barrow and once again we are facing the problem of remote management of what should be hands-on projects.
“Far from actively pursuing land transfer and the harbour revision order I suspect there isn’t anyone in the county who is aware of, or properly understands, these issues.
“The county council did make great play of the importance of them managing the Barrow Regeneration team but there seems to have been little or no attempt to ensure proper knowledge transfer when they declared all the Barrow team redundant and their decision to remove Bob Pointing from the operation well before his agreed termination date has certainly put progress on what are complicated legal and technical matters back significantly.
“I deeply regret the county council’s decision to set up a centralised unit for regeneration/economic development. In my view the varying needs of communities in this county would be better served by integrating county and district resources at a local level.”
Rob Cairns, chairman of Barrow Regeneration, said: “I think Bob did an excellent job but he came across a few barriers which certainly frustrated him. Bob was passionate about the regeneration of Barrow and when he left the organisation, we lost someone who would fight for the local area. He will be very much missed.”
Cumbria County Council denied neglecting Barrow.
Allan Haile, assistant director of economic development, said: “The loss of Northwest Regional Development Agency funding to support posts to deliver regeneration projects in Cumbria has forced the county council to restructure its economic development arrangements.
“Inevitably, this resulted in the loss of jobs. We no longer have the resources to employ teams that are locally-based.
“We now have a flexible team that can be deployed to effectively deliver projects across Cumbria.
“This includes the priority projects that are deliverable in Barrow.”
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
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