Man behind council turnaround is moving on

STEPHEN PULLINGER The council officer credited with leading Yarmouth's economic and environmental turnaround has announced his departure and promotion.

STEPHEN PULLINGER

The council officer credited with leading Yarmouth's economic and environmental turnaround has announced his departure and promotion.

Mark Barrow will leave his job as borough council deputy chief executive on March 31, and at the age of 41 will become one of the youngest chief executives in the country at Newcastle-under- Lyme council in Staffordshire.

The father of two, who arrived from Gloucestershire County Council four years ago, said: "In many ways I will be sad to go because I genuinely believe Yarmouth is one of the most exciting places to be.

"I am very hopeful of a bright future for the resort which is already starting to benefit from our strategy of striving to generate inward investment to bring economic lift and improved prosperity."

Mr Barrow, whose role has included being the council's director for the environment and economy, said one of his proudest achievements had been to set up Great Yarmouth Borough Services as an autonomous body responsible for street cleaning and rubbish collection.

Most Read

He said: "When I arrived we had just had a disastrous audit report giving our environ-mental services a zero stars rating and commenting there was little prospect of improve-ment. Our latest report said there are now promising prospects for the service.

"We have seen big improvement in street cleaning, introduced wheeled bins and are now recycling more than 20pc of our waste."

Mr Barrow, who lives in Surlingham, near Loddon, is also proud of having set up a sport and leisure trust to run the Marina Centre and oversee the long-term development of sport and leisure in the borough.

He said: "We are hopeful that after our first year of trading as a trust, the Marina Centre will have made a small operating profit.

"In the days when it was operated by Leisure Connection it lost money and there were loads of complaints about the service."

Mr Barrow has led the council's long-term vision to turn a large swathe of the seafront, including the Marina Centre site, into a multi-million-pound tourist development.

He said: "Soundings from the market have been very positive and show people do want to come and invest in Yarmouth."

The council will learn on January 30 whether it has been granted one of eight licences for a large casino, and several companies have voiced an interest in building one at the centre of a complex on the Marina Centre site, which could also include hotels, a theatre and conference centre.

Mr Barrow has also played an important role in the regeneration of the seafront, including the latest phase of roadworks in Marine Parade, which will give the Golden Mile a new look in time for Easter.

He said his new job, closer to his and his wife's families, would bring similar challenges as it was an area in need of regeneration after the collapse of the coal mining and pottery industries.