Cotswold District Council has filled a new role to help lead post-Covid economic development recovery as businesses exit lockdown. 

Paul James took up the new post of Economic Development Lead for Cotswold District Council this week.

Mr James has a private sector background and was the Leader of Gloucester City Council for 12 years until stepping down last year. He also held the portfolio for Regeneration for 16 years.

Councillor Tony Dale, Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills, said: “This council wants to lead the local economy out of lockdown and support it to come back greener and stronger.  Paul’s appointment shows how committed we are to that objective. He is a great catch for the council. 

Mr James' appointment was also welcomed by David Owen, Chief Executive of GFirst LEP, he said:“We already have a positive relationship with the team at Cotswold District Council, this move to appoint a high profile Economic Development lead for the district is welcomed and can only help to strengthen that relationship. The appointment is good news for businesses across  the Cotswold District and indeed for the county.”

Paul James, added: “I am very focused on delivery and believe the District Council can make a real difference to the local economy. Recovery post lockdown will not simply come naturally – it will need vision, effort and partnership between all sectors and needs to be soundly-based and sustainable. I'm looking forward to being part of the team that delivers it."

Cllr Richard Morgan, leader of the opposition Conservative Group said: "We would like to extend a warm welcome to Paul and wish him the very best of luck in his new role. 

"However a really simple, quick and easy thing Cotswold District Council could do to help retailers and small business owners is to reverse the Lib Dem decision to increase car parking charges across the Cotswolds by almost 30%.

"Now is a time we need to encourage people to visit our high streets rather than making it more expensive for them. The Lib Dems need to face up to economic reality. Overseas tourists will not be returning to the Cotswolds any time soon and local unemployment across Gloucestershire has increased to 5% in May and will possibly get worse once the furlough scheme ends.

"Our high streets and our small business owners are in a world of pain right now. It’s difficult to imagine how we could make things harder or more challenging for them but increasing parking charges and discouraging people from visiting our high streets is certainly up there."