New town centre manager announced at launch of not-for-profit Baldock Events Forum

Members of the Baldock Events Forum team: town centre manager Richard Sell, chairman Councillor Jim

Members of the Baldock Events Forum team: town centre manager Richard Sell, chairman Councillor Jim McNally, and Councillor Michael Weeks, who will represent the forum on North Herts District Council. Photo: JP Asher - Credit: Archant

A not-for-profit community interest company that will co-ordinate and support events in Baldock was launched at a meeting in the old town hall last night – with a new town centre manager also announced.

This year's Baldock Beast, for which the new Baldock town centre manager Richard Sell was race organ

This year's Baldock Beast, for which the new Baldock town centre manager Richard Sell was race organiser. Photo: Stephen Drayton Photography - Credit: Archant

The Baldock Events Forum was introduced by councillors Jim McNally, Michael Weeks, Val Shanley and Michael Muir at the Arts & Heritage Centre in the High Street, with about 60 people in attendance.

The forum, made up of and run by representatives of different interests in business, charity and elsewhere, will replace the Baldock Town Partnership – which will continue to run the Wednesday Charter Market and Business Networking Group.

The new company will also employ a part-time town centre manager, Richard Sell – a grassroots sports figure who organised last month’s Baldock Beast Half Marathon – to provide a common platform and single point of contact for Baldock events.

Mr McNally said the forum was designed to involve all elements of the community – and stressed that while the forum hoped to help existing town mainstays such as the Balstock charity music festival, they could continue independently.

“We’re doing this for the community of Baldock so we can have fun,” said Mr McNally.

“We have a policy of non-interference. If you’re running something successful without us, then that’s great. We’d just ask that we know what you’re doing and when, so we can build a comprehensive events programme.”

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The forum is receiving funding from North Herts District Council initially, but intends ultimately to be self-sustaining.

Mr McNally will chair it for the first year or so before stepping aside to avoid a conflict of interest with his role as a district councillor. He indicated that transparency was important in all the company does to promote Baldock events.

Hayley Partridge was announced as events director, with Paul Calver and Carrie Dunne in charge of marketing and finances respectively. All directors are acting in a voluntary capacity without pay.

Nominations are invited for non-voting advisors, as well as the role of fundraising director – which Mr McNally said was ‘absolutely necessary for the viability of the Baldock Events Forum in the future’.

He added: “Baldock has a enviable history of sporting, creative and other community events that would be the pride of towns twice its size.

“Let’s celebrate that fact – but we need your help.”

New town centre manager Richard, a dad-of-two who has lived in the town all his life, said: “Baldock is a great town full of great people, and I’ve never felt a desire to leave.

“About 18 months ago I decided to leave my job in the corporate world, and since then I’ve been helping local grassroots sports clubs to grow and improve.

“I also helped the Baldock Town Partnership to organise the Baldock Beast Half Marathon and that gave me a really good insight into how events in Baldock work.“

Mr Weeks placed on record the town’s gratitude to James Lunnon for his work at the helm of the Baldock Town Partnership.

He said: “James has done great service to the people of Baldock in providing fun and entertainment for all – but perhaps more than anything else, James brought a community spirit to our town.

“At his own request, James will continue to run the Wednesday market and the Network Breakfast Club under the Baldock Town Partnership banner.

“We, your local councillors and officers, feel it would be remiss of us not to build upon the community spirit started by James.”

Anyone who’d like to get involved or find out more about the Baldock Events Forum should contact Richard on richardsell@btinternet.com.

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