CHESTER has poached a dynamic boss from Liverpool in a bid to copy that city’s success in rejuvenating our under-performing economy as part of a £1.5billion programme.
Rita Waters, 45, has accepted the £90,000 a-year job as director of Chester Renaissance with the task of turning the city into a must-see European destination by 2015.
Ms Waters, currently chief executive of Liverpool city centre’s Business Improvement District (BID), must attract more shops, houses and restaurants – and realise the potential of historic attractions like the amphitheatre.
But she must re-energise the city against the background of a global credit crunch and knows delivering the stalled £460m Northgate Development will be crucial.
Ms Waters, a divorcee with no children who lives in Heswall, said: “There are huge opportunities, we have got such a unique selling point in Chester itself, so it’s about developing it, strengthening it and working more in partnership with organisations.”
Ms Waters, who is likely to take up the post in December, said one possibility was to follow Liverpool’s lead in developing the evening economy by encouraging late night shopping.
Ms Waters said of her personality: “I’m a doer. I like to get things done.”
There has been some criticism of Chester Renaissance – a brand-new private-public sector partnership – as it has attached its name to projects already in the pipeline, including the £50m HQ development on the former Cheshire police headquarters site, but Ms Waters’ job will be to attract millions of pounds worth of new investment.
About 600 traders are currently voting on whether the BID she leads should be renewed for another five years but Ms Water denied she was “jumping ship” in anticipation of a negative result.
Her BID area, which is in competition with the Liverpool One shopping centre, has seen an extension of late night trading, extra police and improved street cleaning.