City marketing organisation faces urgent calls for change

Gloucester Docks

Major cash-flow problems at Marketing Gloucester have spurred Gloucester City Council into urgent action.

It was revealed last year that the city council had had to bail out the organisation (of which it is the sole stakeholder in this arms-length company responsible for marketing the city), with a temporary lending facility.

The council ordered an in-depth and independent review into the organisation and it has now published it’s review with contain a series of recommendations.

Two sets of consultants, who were retained to undertake a detailed review of finance, governance and management, have now published  a number of key findings and recommended actions.

The review highlighted a lack of clarity in Marketing Gloucester’s purpose, vision, strategic and operational management. It said there was too much focus on events delivery and not enough on marketing the city as a whole to an external audience. The City Council’s requirements were too broad and far ranging and need to be focused.

It also found the there was not enough accountability for decision making and a board structure that is too large and based on stakeholder representation instead of skill based.

Marketing Gloucester’s financial controls were also criticised, and the organisation was said to be trading under unprofitable circumstances and financial volatility.

Marketing Gloucester’s launch of the UK: Digital Retail Innovation Centre was also said to be poorly aligned with the city’s marketing objectives and in need of an urgent and full review.

The report has listed a summary of recommendations which include the urgent appointment of an interim managing director to work with the Board to re-determine the company vision, mission and purpose, its business plan, its staffing structures, skills needs and budgets and to begin the process of recruiting a permanent managing director.

Cllr Steve Morgan, Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure at Gloucester City Council said “We remain committed to MGL being as independent as possible; however it is clear that we need to maintain appropriate oversight of the operations. Clearly MGL has had success with many of its projects, but it has not managed its cash flow well enough. We have been given no option but to provide them with a cash flow facility so we have a duty to ensure that there is appropriate operational and financial management. ”

He added: “The review identified a number of positives within the organisation and we don’t want to detract from the good work the team do. We will support MGL to get back to clearly focussing on the important work of promoting our great city of Gloucester.”

The recommendations have gone to Overview and Scrutiny Committee and will then go to Cabinet on 15 January 2019.