Nigel Way resigns as chairman of the BID… and the manager is set to leave too
DARTMOUTH’S much criticised Business Improvement District has lost two key members of its management team in the last week.
Hotelier Nigel Way has resigned as chairman after just over 12 months in the role.
Less than 48 hours after the announcement was made, BID manager Alison Steere also said she would be leaving.
Mr Way, who has faced some controversy during his time in office, says he is going due to the pressure of work from his other business interests, which include the town’s Royal Castle Hotel.
But he will stay on as a director?on the BID board and says he is fully committed to the future success of the organisation.
He had given no hint of his intention to stand down and he had always expressed his intention to remain at the helm of the BID for the duration of its five-year programme.
The 60-year-old told the Chronicle: ‘I am really sorry to be stepping down because the BID is something I firmly believe in, but I just don’t have the time that it warrants and deserves.
‘My fellow directors have been great and we are desperate to attract more directors. Possibly some of the BID detractors should stand.’
Mr Way will be replaced by fellow director Peter Conisbee, 68, who will take over the position immediately.
Mrs Steere, from Kingsbridge, is the third manager at the BID since its inception last year and has been in the post since March.
She replaced Francesca Johnson who took over the role temporarily when Phil Scoble left unexpectedly.
Mrs Steere said she was returning to the world of magazine publishing in early October.
She said: ‘I have really enjoyed my time here at the BID, but I have been presented with an opportunity, which is just too good to turn down. I will miss working with all the lovely people that I have got to know in Dartmouth, and I wish the BID every success for the future.’
Mr Conisbee said: ‘Ali has done a great job and we will be sorry to lose her. We will shortly be looking to recruit a new BID manager,’
In a statement, the BID said Mr Conisbee had been elected the new chairman by the directors and would work with Mr Way for a short handover period.
Mr Conisbee has been a board director since the formation of the Dartmouth BID. He and his wife have lived in the town for the last nine years and he is semi-retired, having run a series of small businesses throughout his career.
He said: ‘I would like to thank Nigel for his hard work over the last 15 months. I am particularly pleased that he is staying on as a director, and he will have specific future responsibility for the campaign for successful trading in the town during December. He also will be working on the strategic development of the town as a 12-month-a-year destination.’
Mr Conisbee said his greatest wish would be to see all businesses and orgnisations in the town pulling in the same direction for the collective benefit of the town.
His remarks reflect concerns that were raised at a meeting of the Dartmouth Business Forum in July when divisions in the town were highlighted by town councillor Richard Rendle and businessman Joe Murtagh said the town had gone to ‘hell in a hand basket’.
Their comments followed revelations that Mr Way had been responsible for putting up posters around the town and on the Guildhall polling station on the morning of the May town council elections, urging people not to vote for Dave Cawley who was hoping to be re-elected to the council.
Two days earlier Mr Cawley had made remarks criticising the tourist information centre, of which Mr Way is also a director of more than 10 years. Mr Cawley had accused the TIC?of reckless spending over its revamped website.
Mr Cawley maintained the poster campaign cost him the election and an inquiry was carried out after the Electoral Commission feared an offence could have committed and the matter was referred by to the police by South Hams Council, which was responsible to overseeing the election.
Mr Murtagh later called on Mr Way to resign, saying it was alarming that the chairman of the BID should attempt to interfere with the democratic process of the local council elections.
Earlier in the year, Mr Way had also had another clash with Mr Cawley over an informal discussion for a place on the BID board.
Mr Cawley accused Mr Way of reneging on offering him a place on the BID management team.
In recent months, one of Mr Way’s fiercest opponents has been Townstal businessman Gordon Anderson, who has been calling for the BID to hold an extraordinary general meeting and review its structure.
Mr Way, who runs the Royal Castle Hotel and has other hotels in Totnes and Dunster, was voted chairman of the BID at a board meeting on June 19, 2014. He was appointed following the resignation of founding chairman Paul Reach.
Following his appointment to the BID, Mr Way stepped down as chairman of the tourist information centre and this role was taken up by TIC director Angie Cairns-Sharp.
Mr Way, who was made an MBE in 2007 for services to the community, had been a part of the BID since the early days.
At the time he said he felt it was the right move to become BID chairman and to step down from the chairman’s role with the TIC.
In an interview with By the Dart last July, Mr Conisbee said he believed the BID was the best chance there was to bring everyone together to work for the good of the economy of the town.
Since moving to the town in 2007, he has become a trustee of the Dartmouth Trust, and a Flavel trustee as well as a?BID?director.
‘My wife Ruth and I were looking for a home on the south Devon coast and instantly felt at home here.’ he said in the interview.
‘We went to see a house which looked over the river from South Town and instantly fell in love with it. I’ve always had a dream to live by the sea and I can’t believe how lucky I am to have achieved it.’
Born in Surrey, Mr Conisbee worked in media planning before launching his own business in insurance brokerage and later started another business in property management in Oxford.
‘I was invited to join the Dartmouth Trust because of my experience with property and I’m so proud of the money it puts back into the community,’ he said.
‘The trust has a low profile and many people don’t know what it does but, by careful management, the trust distributed over £300,000 to local causes in 2013.’
Speaking about the BID, he said: ‘There are so many people with varied skills and experience in the town. It’s the best chance there is to bring everyone together to work for the good of the economy of the town.’