UNCERTAINTY surrounds the shock departure of the new boss of Winchester Business Improvement District.

Richard Sutherland left his post last Friday only two months after joining the BID in August.

The reasons are unclear for the sudden resignation of the executive director.

He said both parties had agreed not to publicly discuss the situation in detail.

Chris Turner, business development director at the Parchment Street-based organisation, yesterday said the resignation had come as a shock to everyone.

Prof Turner said: “We are surprised and saddened at Richard’s departure. His relationship with BID members and the strategic thinking were not something we were unhappy with.”

In an interview with the Daily Echo last month Mr Sutherland spoke of the city’s need to grow commercially and in size or else it would “wither on the vine.”

He gave strong backing to the developments at Station Approach and the Central Winchester Regeneration, also known as Silver Hill 2, which both propose to have a big element of office space. The issue is controversial as many people argue the city should not try to compete as a business centre but focus on the city's heritage.

Prof Turner said the departure was unrelated to that interview and there had been no falling out with fundamental differences of opinion.

“There was nothing in that interview (with the Daily Echo) that the BID did not fully support. I have been saying the same thing for ten years going back to the first Silver Hill scheme, the need for offices, retail and housing.

"I can assure you with total certainty there is no connection between that story and his departure."

No successor will be appointed before Christmas, said Prof Turner.

In the meantime Prof Turner, who has a two-day a week part-time role, will step up to three days a week to make sure the BID keeps on top of the current issues.

Mr Sutherland was unavailable for comment.

He replaced Catherine Turness who has moved on to the national BID organisation.