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THE future of a group set up in a blaze of publicity to regen-erate and promote a business area is unclear this week. Gunnels Wood Business Development Partnership is no longer operating from its former premises at the Business and Technology Centre in Be

THE future of a group set up in a blaze of publicity to regen-erate and promote a business area is unclear this week.

Gunnels Wood Business Development Partnership is no longer operating from its former premises at the Business and Technology Centre in Bessemer Drive, Stevenage, after the lease ran out on December 31.

No new contact details appear on its website.

Nick Gibson, the partnership's former chief executive officer, confirmed to The Comet that his contract with the partnership, which initially was only for a year, ran out before Christmas.


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Mr Gibson said: "I asked them if they were going to renew my contract and they said no."

The partnership was launched in September 2005 and Mr Gibson said the first year was largely concentrated on "publicising the partnership and Gunnels Wood as a business area".

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GWBP appears to have received some money to fund the first year of activities from grants totalling £187,500 given to Stevenage Borough Council by Hertfordshire Prosperity.

A spokesman for SBC said that the majority of the first grant of £92,500 was spent on physical improvements to the Gunnels Wood area, with the rest of the grant going to GWBP to spend on the partnership's launch, legal advice, recruitment and part of Nick Gibson's salary.

The spokesman added: "In late 2005 a funding application was submitted by the council on behalf of the Gunnels Wood Business Partnership to the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) to support the company from its official launch for a period of three years.

"However, the Gunnels Wood Business Partnership was informed by EEDA in the summer of 2006 that the application was not successful.

"The council strongly supports the objectives of the business partnership but clearly the future of the company is a matter for the company itself. We are aware that in recent months the company has submitted a new funding application to EEDA."

Adam Wood, partnership director at Hertfordshire Prosperity, said that the organisation had received an application from GWBP for £180,000 for the financial year 2007/8, to help promote and attract environmental and green businesses.

This application was turned down, partly because Hertfordshire Prosperity felt that it was a grant for revenue funding, for the day-to-day costs, which they were unable to help with.

Mr Wood added: "It's now been passed on to the Regional Development Agency but it's for them to decide if it's something they want to support."

The partnership was set up in 2005 from a steering group managed by Stevenage Borough Council.

It is a not-for-profit company whose members include the council and local businesses.

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