NEWPORT Now Business Improvement District has appointed Zep Bellavia as its new chairman.

Mr Bellavia was elected unopposed by Newport Now’s board of directors and will succeed Alan Edwards, who has chaired the BID since its inception in 2015.

Mr Bellavia runs legal firm Bellavia & Associates, based in Langstone.

He has been a member of the BID’s board since 2015, acting as company secretary. He has lived and worked in Newport since 1990.

Mr Bellavia joined the board when he was managing partner of city centre-based law firm Harding Evans, a role he left last year to set up his own business.

Mr Edwards will formally stand down as chairman on March 31, with Mr Bellavia taking over on April 1 – the first day of the BID’s fifth year of operations.

Elected by eligible businesses in the city centre to deliver a five-year business plan, Newport Now is a private company which represents more than 400 businesses and is funded by its members.

Mr Bellavia’s key task in his first year as chairman will be to lead the BID into a renewal ballot of its members as it seeks a further five years of operations.

He said: “I’m honoured to have been elected to chair Newport Now. I’ve been involved with the BID since the early feasibility studies to see if city centre businesses wanted a BID to represent them and ensure their voices were heard.

“We’ve achieved much under Alan’s leadership – and I pay tribute to him as the driving force in setting up one of the first BIDs in Wales – but there is still much to be done. I firmly believe the best way of delivering services in addition to those provided by the local authorities is via the BID and I am determined to ensure a Yes vote when we ballot Levy payers later this year.

“Newport has been my home and place of work for almost 30 years and I am passionate about our city, its people, its businesses and its potential.”

Outgoing chairman Mr Edwards, who runs Vacara’s fish and chip shop on Llanarth Street, said: “Zep has all my good wishes as he takes the chair.

“I will be staying on the board and offering Zep all my support, just as he has done for me during my period as chairman.

“Ensuring another five years of operations for the BID is so important if we are to build on the start we have made since 2015.”

Newport Now BID is also the lead sponsor of the South Wales Argus Business Awards 2019 – this is the second consecutive year BID has backed the awards.