Commission tasked with reviving St Helens town centre

Ged Gibbons

Ged Gibbons

First published in News

AN expert in town centre management is returning to St Helens to head up a new team that will be tasked with reviving its struggling shopping zone.

Ged Gibbons, formerly a town centre manager for St Helens, will aim to create a vision for the high street, which is suffering from store closures and decreasing numbers of shoppers.

Mr Gibbons, 55, has been handpicked by St Helens Council Leader Barrie Grunewald to head a new town centre commission, which will be will be backed by a £1million improvement fund as the council examines ways of “maintaining the town centre as the vibrant, commercial heartbeat of the borough”.

Political leaders have come under increasing fire from residents who believe the town has fallen behind neighbours such as Warrington and Widnes.

Critics argue there needs to be a bridge between independent and high street retailers, shopping centres, private landlords and the council.

Speaking at the annual meeting of council on Wednesday, St Helens Council leader Barrie Grunewald announced the creation of the new commission.

Councillor Grunewald said: “The town centre is vital. It creates jobs, provides leisure opportunities and reflects how we are perceived throughout the rest of the region.

“The more people we can attract, the more likely it is that they’ll spend money in our shops.”

Before launching his own consultancy business, Mr Gibbons was chief operating officer of Liverpool City Central Business Improvement District.

He worked for the council as St Helens Town Centre manager for several years until 2007 when he moved to Liverpool.

Grunewald added: “Ged Gibbons has an enormous amount of experience in maximising the potential of town and city centres and we are looking forward to working with him over the next few months.”

Some critics argue a lack of leadership in the town centre has left the area rudderless while battling a recession, internet shopping and competition from giant shopping complexes.

Discussing the town centre’s plight in an interview with the Star in May, Mr Gibbons suggested the council should consider reinstating the town centre manager’s position, reconnecting a partnership between the local authority and private businesses, and a review of parking charges as an initial ways of reviving the area’s fortunes.

Comments (17)

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5:48pm Wed 11 Jun 14

jumperr says...

April the 1st It must be
April the 1st It must be jumperr
  • Score: -6

7:55pm Wed 11 Jun 14

stevelunt says...

Does he have the experience, knowleadge and wisdom to do what this town needs ?

Genuine question as he was Town Centre Manager up until 2007, so when he is Manager (and for how long previously) did he do anything of noticeable worth, because it seemed to be ok around 2005 / 2006 but went on the decline steadily after that until the rubbish we have now

So, is he up to the task ?
Does he have the experience, knowleadge and wisdom to do what this town needs ? Genuine question as he was Town Centre Manager up until 2007, so when he is Manager (and for how long previously) did he do anything of noticeable worth, because it seemed to be ok around 2005 / 2006 but went on the decline steadily after that until the rubbish we have now So, is he up to the task ? stevelunt
  • Score: 3

8:53pm Wed 11 Jun 14

keepitreel says...

so this HAND PICKED chap had this job before,doing the same thing in this town ,well he must be the best man for the job just LOOK at what a good job he did before !!!!!!!!!!
so this HAND PICKED chap had this job before,doing the same thing in this town ,well he must be the best man for the job just LOOK at what a good job he did before !!!!!!!!!! keepitreel
  • Score: -4

11:58am Thu 12 Jun 14

kjd161 says...

If, as Baz says, " the town centre reflects how we are perceived throughout the rest of the region" I dread to think what it is that the rest of the region does think about us.
If, as Baz says, " the town centre reflects how we are perceived throughout the rest of the region" I dread to think what it is that the rest of the region does think about us. kjd161
  • Score: 1

2:17pm Thu 12 Jun 14

Hughwithaview says...

Isn't this the guy who was more well known for appearing on "The Weakest Link" rather than what he did for the Town Centre?

Yet another backward step - first we had Marie Rimmer rising from the ashes and now we have Ged Gibbons back to to rejuvinate the town centre when he did nothing much to talk about when he was last in charge.. It seems a bit of a coincidence that after making comments in the press suggesting the town centre manager role should be reinstated, hey presto! he's welcomed back with open arms by Mr Grunewald - no doubt he is the best person for the job Barrie, just like Marie is the best person to be our MP?

It all smacks as "jobs for the boys" to me and I would be interested to know the size of the salary this post will be awarded - a sum only most of us mere mortals could dream of no doubt.

One thing is sure however, no matter what skills Mr Gibbons may have he is going to need all the luck he can get. With the state this town is in, his one million budget is going to be like fending off a bull elephant with a pea shooter!
Isn't this the guy who was more well known for appearing on "The Weakest Link" rather than what he did for the Town Centre? Yet another backward step - first we had Marie Rimmer rising from the ashes and now we have Ged Gibbons back to to rejuvinate the town centre when he did nothing much to talk about when he was last in charge.. It seems a bit of a coincidence that after making comments in the press suggesting the town centre manager role should be reinstated, hey presto! he's welcomed back with open arms by Mr Grunewald - no doubt he is the best person for the job Barrie, just like Marie is the best person to be our MP? It all smacks as "jobs for the boys" to me and I would be interested to know the size of the salary this post will be awarded - a sum only most of us mere mortals could dream of no doubt. One thing is sure however, no matter what skills Mr Gibbons may have he is going to need all the luck he can get. With the state this town is in, his one million budget is going to be like fending off a bull elephant with a pea shooter! Hughwithaview
  • Score: 3

7:49pm Thu 12 Jun 14

Eranu says...

Great! An old boy who knows the ways of this town i.e. It's run by the same old labour cronies and the same old council fat cats who have been in post for the last 30 years. What fantastic vision for the future we are showing with this appointment!! Bravo!!!
Great! An old boy who knows the ways of this town i.e. It's run by the same old labour cronies and the same old council fat cats who have been in post for the last 30 years. What fantastic vision for the future we are showing with this appointment!! Bravo!!! Eranu
  • Score: 1

10:25pm Thu 12 Jun 14

jumperr says...

It's not in anybody's interest to compete against one another,so put all the shopping in one place,the high st is gone let's move on.
It's not in anybody's interest to compete against one another,so put all the shopping in one place,the high st is gone let's move on. jumperr
  • Score: -8

10:35pm Thu 12 Jun 14

Eranu says...

"Handpicked" by St. Helens council leader Barrie Grunewald? Sounds like when David Moyes was "handpicked" by Sir Alex Ferguson, and we all know what happened there!
"Handpicked" by St. Helens council leader Barrie Grunewald? Sounds like when David Moyes was "handpicked" by Sir Alex Ferguson, and we all know what happened there! Eranu
  • Score: 3

1:00am Fri 13 Jun 14

anthonywilson says...

Surely it would have made more sense to poach and employ Warrington's town centre manager?
Surely it would have made more sense to poach and employ Warrington's town centre manager? anthonywilson
  • Score: 3

1:10am Fri 13 Jun 14

anthonywilson says...

I'm sure Cllr Grunewald picked up some good ideas to improve St Helens Town Centre from his very recent visit to London on Wednesday evening. I certainly hope that his spent time in the First Class lounge at Runcorn Station waiting for the London train was also well spent making business connections to improve the town and that it was at his own expense and not the Council's.
I'm sure Cllr Grunewald picked up some good ideas to improve St Helens Town Centre from his very recent visit to London on Wednesday evening. I certainly hope that his spent time in the First Class lounge at Runcorn Station waiting for the London train was also well spent making business connections to improve the town and that it was at his own expense and not the Council's. anthonywilson
  • Score: 7

12:43pm Fri 13 Jun 14

Hughwithaview says...

anthonywilson wrote:
I'm sure Cllr Grunewald picked up some good ideas to improve St Helens Town Centre from his very recent visit to London on Wednesday evening. I certainly hope that his spent time in the First Class lounge at Runcorn Station waiting for the London train was also well spent making business connections to improve the town and that it was at his own expense and not the Council's.
First Class Lounge at Runcorn eh?
Nice to see our Council Leader is setting such a good example in these times of austerity. No doubt he sampled the old silver service and a glass of something red (and I don't mean Vimto) during his journey to London.

Well, at least this Council is consistent - it preaches one thing whilst doing another. Well done Barrie - you are a true socialist sir!
[quote][p][bold]anthonywilson[/bold] wrote: I'm sure Cllr Grunewald picked up some good ideas to improve St Helens Town Centre from his very recent visit to London on Wednesday evening. I certainly hope that his spent time in the First Class lounge at Runcorn Station waiting for the London train was also well spent making business connections to improve the town and that it was at his own expense and not the Council's.[/p][/quote]First Class Lounge at Runcorn eh? Nice to see our Council Leader is setting such a good example in these times of austerity. No doubt he sampled the old silver service and a glass of something red (and I don't mean Vimto) during his journey to London. Well, at least this Council is consistent - it preaches one thing whilst doing another. Well done Barrie - you are a true socialist sir! Hughwithaview
  • Score: 5

3:41pm Fri 13 Jun 14

pault1968 says...

Without wanting to be disrespectful to the new Town Centre Manager, he is not exactly the epitome of a dynamic, engaging and forward thinking manager is he? If, as the article says, he had the post before what new ideas is he bringing ot the table, or are we going to spend £1,000,000 of our own tax money on new benches?

The town centre in dead. Why not let it become a cultural centre instead of a shopping centre? Do something completely different... or is that too 21st century arty-**** for a dyed in the wool socialist we-are-a-working-cla
ss-town-so-be-proud-
of-it council members.
Without wanting to be disrespectful to the new Town Centre Manager, he is not exactly the epitome of a dynamic, engaging and forward thinking manager is he? If, as the article says, he had the post before what new ideas is he bringing ot the table, or are we going to spend £1,000,000 of our own tax money on new benches? The town centre in dead. Why not let it become a cultural centre instead of a shopping centre? Do something completely different... or is that too 21st century arty-**** for a dyed in the wool socialist we-are-a-working-cla ss-town-so-be-proud- of-it council members. pault1968
  • Score: 1

4:12pm Fri 13 Jun 14

barrie timpson says...

A true champagne socialist that is.
A true champagne socialist that is. barrie timpson
  • Score: 0

1:04pm Mon 16 Jun 14

Hughwithaview says...

"Hand picked by Councillor Grunewald"
Word of advice to Mr Gibbons - do not add that statement to your CV, not unless you are looking for early retirement!
"Hand picked by Councillor Grunewald" Word of advice to Mr Gibbons - do not add that statement to your CV, not unless you are looking for early retirement! Hughwithaview
  • Score: 1

7:58pm Mon 16 Jun 14

lawman2004 says...

Who has been the ' mastermind " behind the past quick fix " ideas for the town centre. You know , like continental markets selling vastly over priced stuff that you can buy in the local super markets for fraction of the price or who can forget the 'pots and pans " market that rolled up one year ?
Who has been the ' mastermind " behind the past quick fix " ideas for the town centre. You know , like continental markets selling vastly over priced stuff that you can buy in the local super markets for fraction of the price or who can forget the 'pots and pans " market that rolled up one year ? lawman2004
  • Score: 1

2:45pm Tue 17 Jun 14

Lestat1977 says...

The whole place needs reorganising - I think it might be nice to have church square and its surrounding shops as a food court and cafe and maybe put a roof ovet the main stretch add some more greenery - the town is knackered so why not start from scratch - so many ideas.
The whole place needs reorganising - I think it might be nice to have church square and its surrounding shops as a food court and cafe and maybe put a roof ovet the main stretch add some more greenery - the town is knackered so why not start from scratch - so many ideas. Lestat1977
  • Score: 1

12:40pm Wed 18 Jun 14

mikeashworth says...

I am of the opinion that many ppl who comment here actually want stuff to moan about, what will you all do with your time when their are less things to moan about. or do you think their never will be? in that case it's possible that many of you are part of the problem and not part of any solution.
I am of the opinion that many ppl who comment here actually want stuff to moan about, what will you all do with your time when their are less things to moan about. or do you think their never will be? in that case it's possible that many of you are part of the problem and not part of any solution. mikeashworth
  • Score: 0

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