Barrow BID – Annual Report 2017 from The Chair

 

Summary

As we approach the end of the first year, I can report that we have had a very busy time getting the Board formed and the BID Company structured, and then developing our strategy and how we are going to deliver this.  We have been working closely with other key stakeholders and we are now starting to see the evidence of these meetings in terms of car parking initiatives and signage.  We have also had our first event, at Easter, and, by the time you read this, our second event will have taken place.

 

The BID Board

The BID Board is made up of individuals from a broad range of levy paying businesses and presently consists of 11 Directors:

Large Retailers: Simon Craig – Chair (M&S); Shabana Azib (Debenhams); Nathan Morrow (Wilko)

Small Retailers: Tom Burrow (Burrow’s); Sandra Collings (Cumbria Embroidery & Print); Phil Heath (Heath’s Toymaster)

Hospitality, Food & Drink: Robert Hope (The Railway); Owain Miln (Daddy’s Catering)

Financial & Professional: Stephen Leonard – Treasurer (JL Winder & Co)

Charitable Organisations: Cindy Daltioni – Vice Chair (SAFA)

Board Nominated Persons: Lynn Beach (Rebel)

There are still a number of potential Board places available and should you wish to put yourself forward, please send an email to manager@localhost 

Sub-Groups

The Board has formed four Sub Groups: Marketing & Communications, Events, Healthy High Streets and Transport to develop project ideas to drive the BID forward.  You do not need to be a Director to be on a Sub Group and so we would welcome the involvement from anyone out there that would enjoy being involved in the BID. 

 

Members

The BID is looking to encourage as many of the levy-paying businesses as possible to sign up to become BID Members.  This will give two benefits: firstly, as Barrow BID is a company limited by guarantee, being a Member will allow a vote on key issues at the AGM or other key meetings; secondly, by registering an email address as a Member, we will be able to better communicate directly with Members on key BID issues.

The enclosed Membership Form will only take a couple of minutes to complete.

Financial Summary

Income from BID Levy receipts:          £134,568

Administration costs:

Company Administration            £18,294
Levy collection                          £  9,329

Total administration costs:         £27,623

Administration as a percentage of income: 20.50% 

Available to spend                                  £107,125
Marketing & communications      £  909
Events                                      £1,831
Transport                                  £       0
Health High Streets                   £        0

Total expenditure                                  £    2,740

Carried forward to Year 2                      £104,385 

Overall Commentary

We have appointed a local company to monitor the footfall in the BID Area.  As part of the Steering Group process, we undertook annual counts in July 2015 and July 2016 and we now start quarterly footfall monitoring in July this year.  In the meantime, we have already seen an increase in footfall after 3pm as a result of the “Free After 3” car parking initiative that we have agreed with Barrow Borough Council, and we are pleased to be able to confirm that this has been extended for a further 12 months up to the end of May 2018.

We have recently commissioned a new website that will be more dynamic and user-friendly and on which BID Members will be able to advertise their own businesses.  We hope that, by the time you are reading this, the new site will have been launched.  You will, though, already have noticed our new BID logo.  We decided that, whilst fit for the Steering Group process, the previous logo was far too corporate and so we hope that you like our fun and friendly new design.  It is also very versatile and, over the coming weeks and months you will see a variety of different versions without, however, losing the identity of the BID.

We have recently held a series of meetings with Cumbria County Council’s Highways Manager with a view to replacing some old directional signs and installing a number of new signs.  These will ensure that car parks can be found from all town centre entry points with an emphasis being on bringing visitors down the traditional town centre entry route of Abbey Road, thereby bypassing the industrial estates and retail parks.  Keep your eyes on the press for further news on this initiative.

Work continues to build and develop relationships with local property agents with a view to reducing the number of empty shops in the town centre.  Our quarterly vacancy rates have seen a reduction from 17.8% to 14.4%, a fall of some 20%.  We still sit above the national average but are moving in the right direction.  We have built a solid relationship with Peill & Co and it was good to see them involved in Thorntons remaining in the town centre, having already announced that they were going to close.

We are also in the process of designing a series of maps – both static and fold-out paper – that will help people from outside the area find their way around town.

In the past couple of weeks, the BID Board has agreed to sponsor the Street Angels initiative. This worthwhile volunteer-led initiative will provide on street patrols at night, keeping an eye on those who might be vulnerable. The volunteer teams will offer practical support such as first aid, directions, counselling and reuniting friends, thereby contributing to a reduction in violence and anti-social behaviour.  The BID will source, brand and provide the high-vis jackets for the teams of volunteers for this valuable support service to the night-time economy. It is hoped that Street Angels will be launched in Barrow in September.

Many of you will have read about our first event – the BID Bunny Easter Trail – aimed at children and families.  This full treasure-trail brought hundreds of youngsters into the town centre over Easter and we are presently working on something similar to entertain the younger population during the summer holidays.

By the time you read this, we will also have run our Vintage & Classic Car & Bike event, with cars and bikes lining up along Dalton Road with their proud owners talking to shoppers about their passion for their respective cars and bikes and about the hours and hours of time spent restoring their pride and joy.  We hope to run a bigger and broader vintage event next year.

Indeed, we have a series of events that are currently being developed for the remainder of 2017 and some exciting ideas ahead for 2018.  Keep an eye on the media for further details as and when these are launched.

Finally, as I write this, we have just launched a Love Barrow Town Centre Campaign that is all about people taking a greater pride in the town centre.  This campaign will be led by the BID but will involve other key stakeholders who have just signed a pledge, to promote the town positively and to commit to undertaking their respective responsibilities to the betterment of the town centre.  Those who have pledged are: Barrow Borough Council, Cumbria County Council, our MP, John Woodcock, and The Mail.  This campaign will be highlighted in The Mail as well as on social media platforms and it is imperative that the public get on board too.

In conclusion, it has been a busy year behind the scenes in terms of forming the company and getting the Board into place, as well as developing our strategy and delivery plan for the 5-year period of the BID.  The Board is excited about the future of Barrow Town Centre, as we hope you will be as our initiatives become more visible through Year 2 and beyond.

Simon Craig - Chair, Barrow BID
July 2017