Town centre team is latest on hit-list for council’s cuts

Harborough Improvement Team's town development officer Chris Sewart
Harborough Improvement Team's town development officer Chris Sewart

Harborough Improvement Team is losing its full-time

project officer and being scaled back as part of council cuts.

Harborough District Council’s executive committee has to replace HiT’s current structure.

The council has cut funding to HiT by £20,000 and is making the development officer role filled by Chris Sewart redundant.

HiT was set up under the Market Towns Initiative in 2001 to help develop East Midlands town centres.

Funded by Harborough Council and Sainsbury’s, it is behind the annual Harborough by the Sea festival and backs several other community events.

A council spokesman said: “The executive considered the HiT and town centre report.

“Councillors approved a reduction in officer hours to help meet the £20,000 reduction identified two years ago.

“A part-time role will be established to deliver sandpits and Christmas lights events, signpost support to businesses and others in the town centre wanting to stage events and monitor and benchmark the health of the town through footfall monitoring.

“The focus now is to develop the role of HiT with a quarterly network focus.”

The group has been without a chairman since September when Geoff Owen stepped down just seven months after taking up the role.

Prior to that, the chairmanship had been vacant for five months.

Mr Sewart started at HiT in January 2008.

Cllr Sarah Hill, who has agreed to take on a leadership role with HiT in the coming months, said Mr Sewart had done a lot of good work over the past six years.

Cllr Hill said: “Chris has been a credit to the town.”

She also criticised the council for not making the full HiT council document available to the public.

Cllr Hill said: “HiT is meant to be a community partnership and yet the community has not been able to see the full document.”