A major figure in the Skegness business scene has resigned, claiming he has too few resources to achieve his ambitious goals for the town.
Town manager Stefan Krause will not be renewing his contract when it ends in September, fearing the finances at his disposal are insufficient to carry out the tasks his role demands.
“Skegness Partnership’s role is getting bigger and bigger, focusing more and more on the trading environment, which is brilliant, but on the other side, what’s not happened is the offer of resources to achieve that,” he said.
In previous roles, Mr Krause says he had teams of paid employees, whereas in Skegness he has been unaided, ‘left doing the work of three or four people’.
Having accrued more than 300 hours of overtime this year attempting to cover this shortfall, only to be offered even less support in the coming years, he has decided to move on.
“They said they would give us another two years to find a sustainable structure, but in my view it’s not enough,” he said.
Although East Lindsey District Council is gradually withdrawing its funding for the town centre manager scheme over the coming years, Mr Krause does not blame the authority for his budget problems.
“Town centre management is usually a shared project between the authorities and businesses, so it’s what I would expect, it’s the natural approach,” he said.
Instead, he has attributed the problems on ‘structural issues’ between the various organisations in the town, which have left him unable to set up a sustainable funding model.
Mr Krause’s long held aspiration, and the paradigm for most successful town centre manager schemes, is for a Business Improvement District to be set up as a levy on rates to fund the role and its initiatives.
Although figures indicate those paying into a BID receive a five-fold return in their investment, Mr Krause has struggled to convince businesses of its worth.
This, he feels, is unsurprising given the difficulties faced by the AMCA Motorcross Rally in securing financial support for its event, despite the £800,000 benefit it has been calculated as bringing to the economy.
Despite these challenges, Mr Krause felt the idea of a BID was beginning to gain support in the town in early 2012, but this all changed when the Destination Management Organisation arrived on the scene.
With many businesses being asked to pay the £1,500 DMO membership fees, Mr Krause says the BID plan ‘lost its momentum’.
Although he believed Skegness Partnership and the DMO could have existed alongside one another fulfilling different roles in cooperation, Mr Krause felt the support was not reciprocated.
“This made it unbelievably hard,” he said.
“I don’t want to attack the DMO but I thin we need to clarify the relationships, responsibilities and different layers which Skegness Partnership and the DMO work on.”
Mr Krause also has his doubts about the DMO’s current model, which he fears ELDC is too heavily involved with.
“At the DMO meetings the businesses are now in a minority, it’s all the council officers and councillors, there’s too much political involvement,” he said.
“It should be business led and business driven and that’s not happening at the moment.”
Although Mr Krause was unable to set up the funding model to see the town manager role progress in the direction he intended, he is confident Skegness remains well positioned to succeed.
“We’ve worked over the past four years to get the Skegness Partnership set up as a company, which has happened, the business community is full of ambition, entrepreneurship and innovation to renew the town as a modern seaside resort and there’s enough energy to see that happen,” he said.
Mr Krause will be seeing out his contract until the end of September before taking a new role in Plymouth, which already has a ‘successful city centre BID in its third year’.