A senior council official has been chosen to boost the economic fortunes of Brighton and Hove with transport and tourism added to his existing responsibility for regeneration.
Nick Hibberd, 44, has been promoted to become the new executive director of economy, environment and culture at Brighton and Hove City Council.
His multibillion-pound responsibilities range from the regeneration of the seafront and the city’s housing stock through tourism and transport to the quality of the air that we breathe.
He first came to Brighton in 1995 when he was an adviser in the old housing office in Manor Place, working his way up to become head of city regeneration.
He has been the joint executive director for his new brief – with Richard Bradley – since Geoff Raw was promoted to become chief executive last year.
Mr Hibberd has been a driving force behind the Greater Brighton Economic Board, bringing together neighbouring councils and other organisations as part of the “City Deal” signed with the government.
The economic board has been used to leverage funds into local projects such as upgraded broadband, a new building for City College, in Wilson Avenue, and the Circus Street makeover. The revival of the seafront infrastructure is on his “to do” list.
Mr Hibberd, a father of two, is also a governor of the Brighton Aldridge Community Academy (BACA) in Falmer.
He grew up on a council estate in Essex and lives on an estate in Brighton, having bought his home through a shared ownership scheme.
Today (Wednesday 21 September) he spoke to the Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce about the transport and traffic challenges facing the area.
And he addressed councillors at a Housing and New Homes Committee meeting at Hove Town Hall as they discussed an ambitious £105 million housing programme – one of the biggest decisions in the council’s history.
His brief includes the proposed extension of the Churchill Square shopping centre to the seafront and the relocation of the Brighton Centre to Black Rock.
He will oversee the council’s role in a range of projects along the front from Brighton Marina to the King Alfred and Shoreham Harbour.
And inland he will be liaising with his counterparts at the growing universities and City College which wants to renew its Pelham Street base.
Valley Gardens – between The Level and the Palace Pier – is another project in the pipeline.
But Mr Hibberd will now also manage those in charge of bringing conferences to Brighton and encouraging visitors – tourism alone is worth an estimated £1 billion a year.
He will take charge of those running the council’s environmental duties too – including everything from cleaning the streets and emptying the bins to tackling air and noise pollution.
One of his early challenges will be to improve confidence in the council’s Planning Department which was the subject of a critical report this year and has been tackling a substantial backlog.
A formal announcement about his appointment is expected soon.
But tomorrow (Thursday 22 September) he is due to attend the council’s Economic Development and Culture Committee at Hove Town Hall.
Among the items on a packed agenda are the crumbling Madeira Terraces, the City Employment and Skills Plan and parking.
And, wearing his existing regeneration hat, he will also furnish councillors with his regular update on the big projects in the pipeline and under way across the city.
Working alongside Mr Raw, his task is all about building the Brighton and Hove of the future and equipping people with the skills and providing the jobs to make it happen.