CEO departs following row

Donnelly quits Marketing Edinburgh after cuts row

John Donnelly

John Donnelly: outspoken critic of budget cut


Marketing Edinburgh’s chief executive John Donnelly has left the organisation just weeks after its budget was slashed in savage council budget cuts.

Mr Donnelly, who has led the organisation for five years, was a vocal critic of the council’s decision to withdraw almost all of its subsidy over the next two years. He warned that it would impact negatively on the city economy and compromise its efforts to reach a global audience. His views drew widespread support from across the marketing and tourism industry.

However, the cutbacks went ahead and Mr Donnelly and his board, chaired by Edinburgh Airport communications director Gordon Robertson, were ordered to produce “a detailed strategy for transition to zero funding from the council.”

It has now been “mutually decided” that Mr Donnelly – who was paid £139,000 – should leave the organisation and his resignation was accepted by Marketing Edinburgh’s board on Monday.

A statement issued on behalf of Marketing Edinburgh’s board said it was the “appropriate time for John to leave the business” as the organisation attempted to “realise the challenges of functioning on minimal council funding.”

The statement added: “John has worked tirelessly over the past few years, building a talented, experienced team who are ready to continue the organisation’s invaluable work, start a new chapter and bring significant gain to the city.

“We will reflect on the skills we need to lead the business through this period of change before we find the right person.

“In the meantime, the organisation will continue to be supported by a strong, experienced board and its talented team. It’s very much business as normal.”

Mr Donnelly said: “It has been an honour to lead Marketing Edinburgh, from the introduction of the “This is Edinburgh campaign”, to increasing film production in the city, attracting millions of pounds worth of conferences and the building of an impressive partner network. However, given wider changes, the time was right to explore other opportunities.”

Depute council leader Cammy Day said: “John has been a true champion of the city in every way. He’s steered many award-winning creative campaigns, guiding Edinburgh’s reputation at home and abroad as the incredible place it is for business and tourism.”

Mr Donnelly’s predecessor Lucy Bird resigned over alleged political meddling in her first major campaign.

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