Berwick’s town team, tasked with spending a £200,000 Portas prize, has been hit by the shock resignation of chairman Ed Swales.
A statement released by the town team on Tuesday revealed that Mr Swales has made the decision to allow himself time to concentrate on some of his other projects.
He is currently voluntary regimental secretary of the KOSB Association and involved in talks with English Heritage and the Woodhorn Trust over the future management arrangements at Berwick Barracks.
Chris Hardie, who has taken over as acting chairman, said: “The Berwick town team would formally like to record its thanks to Mr Swales who was one of the founding members of the team and the Portas bid.
“The team hopes to continue to use his extensive knowledge of the Portas process in a consulting capacity.”
The board has also taken steps to become a more democratic and accountable body, a criticism levelled at it from some quarters due to its small membership.
Mr Hardie said the move would ‘give it more resources to take on projects that will benefit Berwick town centre’.
New members include Barry Allison, ex manager of Boots and a former chairman of the Chamber of Trade; Walkergate shop owner Bryon Longbone and chartered accountant Malcolm Reid.
Berwick won a £100,000 prize last year when it was selected as a Mary Portas pilot town project, with plans put in place to regenerate the town centre.
The prize was subsequently doubled by Northumberland County Council.
After a slow start, the town team has delivered a number of notable successes this year including the launch of an art trail, reinstatement of boat trips on the River Tweed and the opening of Serendipity on Marygate, regarded as one of the UK’s best pop-up shops.
It has also set about improving Berwick’s charter market which, after years of steady decline, has seen the addition of around seven new stallholders and the start of a new marketing and promotion programme.
One project the town team hasn’t delivered on yet due to property access issues is that of cleaning the gutters on Marygate.
Although this is a property owners responsibility, it had been proposed to clean them this year as a way of setting the standard that would hopefully be followed thereafter.