Showcase Loses Its Public Face

Article excerpt

Byline: John Duckers Business Editor

Millennium Point, Birmingham's pounds 114 million futuristic new technology centre, has parted company with the marketing expert whose job was to sell the project to the public.

It is understood that Georgina East, assistant chief executive for communications, is no longer with the organisation.

Her departure comes only seven months before the Millennium Commission-backed complex is due to open.

While the Birmingham business community was yesterday dismissing any comparisons with the ill-fated Millennium Dome debacle, and the scheme's organisers remain confident of its success, the loss of Ms East is sure to be at least an embarrassment.

It is believed that law firms have been negotiating severance terms.

Business sources yesterday suggested Ms East was likely to have been earning in the region of pounds 50,000 and could walk away with a pay-off approaching two-thirds of that sum.

All week Millennium Point had been denying that Ms East had gone.

Chief executive Jim Beeston said she was on leave and remained on the payroll.

Yet she had just returned from leave over Christmas and New Year after a sunshine holiday in Mexico which also took her on a jungle trek in Guatemala.

There was no formal comment yesterday, but sources close to Millennium Point were not denying that she was on her way. It was suggested her skills were not entirely suited to the next phase of the project.

Just two weeks ago, Ms East outlined her marketing strategy to The Birmingham Post in a special briefing.

With the launch still months away, she had been putting her efforts into raising the project's profile and its imminent opening with the movers, shakers and decision-makers across Birmingham and the wider region.

The commercial aspects of the scheme were also growing in prominence, with announcements due on various bars, restaurants and jobs. …