As the BID Leamington financial year ended in June, we have naturally begun reflecting on our achievements and planning for the year ahead. This has been captured in our 2019-2020 Annual Report which can be read online by clicking here. This report draws to an end the second of BID Leamington’s five-year term (2018-2023) and whilst we face immediate challenges as a result of covid-19, we are well placed to tackle the journey going forwards.
Responding to COVID
At the time of writing this, we are in the process of safely reopening our town centre as a part of our covid-19 recovery strategy. This has hit our business community very hard and close conversations with many of our members since March has revealed the strain that many businesses are under and the varying circumstances that many face. At this time, some have been able to trade through the crisis, whilst others remain closed, with no opening date in sight.
In general, the whole business community is still managing much ambiguity and uncertainty, and we know that leadership and collaboration is needed to illuminate and navigate the path forwards. We also know that we are well placed to take this journey due to the strength and connectivity of existing local networks and partnerships across the local community.
As set out in the Annual Report and across this website, BID Leamington has swiftly embraced the challenge of supporting members and we have now embraced the challenge of guiding our recovery and then transformation.
Our Recovery Framework
Drawing on knowledge and experience from the High Street Task Force, Institute of Place Management and other place management practitioners we devised a recovery strategy for our town. Specifically, this involved adapting their 4-stage framework that guides places from Crisis, to Pre-Recovery, Recovery and then Transformation. We are also pleased to have played a role in contributing to this framework and having our work showcased within the resource set.
The diagram below sets out some of the key actions we have undertaken at each stage, and how we plan to direct our resources going forwards.
BID Levy Invoicing
For almost ten years it has been our privilege to serve the businesses of our town. Whilst we have achieved great things and have faced various challenges; the BID Board of Directors and I are aware that the current situation is unique. In the months since the Covid-19 lockdown in March, we have had conversations with a large number of different businesses and understand that individual circumstances vary widely and the incredible strain many are managing. We are also conscious that some businesses have been able to trade through this period, while others remain closed at this time.
Warwick District Council is the collection agent for the annual BID Levy that was issued in July. Whilst there is a legal imperative to issue BID levy invoices to maintain the BID mandate, we acknowledge the varying circumstances facing businesses and have a strong desire to avoid adding further strain at this time. Reflecting this, the BID Board of Directors and Warwick District Council have agreed to some flexibility with respect to the payment terms this year. By request, you can defer the first payment until October 1, 2020. Also, if desired, businesses can request to set up a monthly payment plan from July or October as required. Of course, if you are in a position to pay the full amount in July, we would be very grateful.
If you wish to take advantage of either or both of these options, we ask that you contact us to let us know your plans as soon as possible. Please do this by phoning 01926 470 634 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact Warwick District Council directly (as per the invoice details).
Our Transformation – Planning the Path Forwards
As set out within our Annual Report 2019-2020, the value of your BID is more important than ever. Building on our excellent track record of delivery, many of you have experienced how valuable our work has been since March. We have been front and centre, working with partners to get critical grant funds to members, helping businesses to adapt, providing professional advice and solutions, lobbying for additional support, maintaining links with our customer base and planning for re-opening our town.
Looking forwards, our town centre will inevitably change and we have begun gathering data to inform this. There are also some exciting plans on the horizon which are important to highlight.
Leamington Spa is among 101 towns who have been identified as part of the Future High Street Fund (announced in August 2019). This funding is aimed at addressing the most pressing structural challenges in our town centre and supporting future transformation. The work builds on our existing town vision and will be adapted to meet emerging needs and embrace local creativity and innovation. We are also looking forward to hosting the Commonwealth Games Bowls in 2022 just minutes from the town centre. Already 1.8 million pounds of funding has been secured to upgrade local parks, improve wayfinding and our railway station gateway in advance of this.
Alongside this, we continue to roll out creative interventions and activities to ensure our town centre is inviting and welcoming, whilst continuing to support conversations with Local Authority partners to influence how our town centre is changing.
Though we face challenges ahead, the BID team have the experience and leadership to steer our town through the transition process. Together we have done a huge amount over the years and I believe it is the strength and resilience of this groundwork and our approach to partnership working that will help pave the way forwards. Please do not hesitate to reach out to myself or Alison to discuss your individual needs.
THANK YOU! … as always … we remain inspired by everything we can see you doing to navigate a path forwards.
Don’t forget to join our Leamington Town Centre Facebook Group if you haven’t already. We will also post updates on the BID Leamington Facebook Page – and the Royal Leamington Spa Town Centre Facebook page is where we will showcase what you are now doing.
Best wishes and we look forward to seeing you out and about,
Steph & Alison