The sun shone through for the Leamington Food and Drink Festival

The sun shone through for the Leamington Food and Drink Festival

The sun shone through for the Leamington Food and Drink Festival as a fitting finale to the town’s scorching ‘Summer of Fun’.

Blue skies on the closing day of the weekend showcase of food and drink, now in its 11th year, saw the Royal Pump Room Gardens bursting with foodies and flavour.

The festival lived up to its reputation as one of the country’s best autumn food festivals with a spoilt-for-choice range of exhibitors dishing up tastes from near and far, from local beer, cider and wine to global cannoli, jerk chicken and churros.

A feast of local chefs showed off their culinary skills with demonstrations in the Live Kitchen over the two days – but it was time for the best amateur cooks to shine on Sunday with the the return of Home Cook of the Year.

A record number of entries to the competition, run by Aubrey Allen with festival organisers BID Leamington, made it tough to pick three finalists to go head-to-head in a three-course cook-off in front of crowds at the festival.

And the decisions didn’t get any easier when Sean Hughes, Tim Robbins and Trudie Udell stepped up to the plate to wow the judging panel of Russell Allen, managing director of Aubrey Allen, Clive Fretwell, executive chef at Brasserie Blanc, and Sophie Hyam, Home Cook Winner 2017.

It was Tim, a University Hospital Coventry doctor from Leamington, who was crowned this year’s champion.

Congratulating all three finalists, Sophie said: “The competition was amazing and there were so many different dishes with great flavours and combinations, but Clive, myself and Russell all agreed that the overall winner was Tim.”

Tim said: “I’m a little bit shocked!  I was not expecting it by any means but I’m really delighted.  It’s been such great fun and I would encourage anyone to enter next year.”

Alison Shaw, project manager at BID Leamington, said: “With the diversity of exhibitors this year, it really has lived up to its reputation as one of the best food festivals around.

“Many of the exhibitors sold out on the first day and had to replenish their supplies overnight which is a great sign of how well it’s gone.

“New for this year was us offering a free drink to anyone travelling to the festival by train and there was a great take-up which was really pleasing.

“It’s topped off what has been a memorable ‘Summer of Fun’ with Leamington Peace Festival, Leamington Carnival, Art in the Park and Warwickshire Pride, and our thanks to all of the volunteers who have helped make them all such a resounding success.”

Covent Garden Car Park Meeting

Covent Garden Car Park Meeting

A public meeting is to be held on the high-profile redevelopment of Covent Garden Car Park in Leamington.

The event will give local businesses, employees, customers and residents the chance to put forward their questions on the development of new headquarters for Warwick District Council, new multi-storey car park and apartments on the site.

It is being jointly organised by BID Leamington and Leamington Chamber of Trade on behalf of the town’s business community and will take place at The Studio in the Royal Spa Centre on Tuesday, June 19, at 6pm.

It is hoped that the meeting will enable greater engagement and opportunity for the wider community to have their questions answered by key local authority representatives including Bill Hunt, deputy chief executive of Warwick District Council.

BID Leamington is concerned that insufficient provision has been made for the loss of parking and that the new multi-storey will not be able to meet increased demand from the new headquarters and apartments.

Stephanie Kerr, executive director of BID Leamington, said: “The Covent Garden Car Park redevelopment will greatly impact on local businesses, their staff and customers.

“As their collective voice, BID Leamington has been actively lobbying on the scheme for over a year, particularly in relation to the displacement plan for parking.

“As part of that, we met with Cllr Andrew Mobbs, leader of Warwick District Council, in early February when we set out the concerns of 200 businesses which included 27 emails that we had received from individual retailers.

“With around 25,000 vehicles per month affected, local businesses are worried that a shortage of parking spaces, within an acceptable distance, during the two-year development will deter shoppers and significantly diminish footfall particularly in the north of the town centre where businesses will also notice the loss in passing foot traffic.

“We are committed to working with Warwick District Council not only to improve parking in the long-term but to attract the right kind of investment to take the town forward.

“However, we feel that this needs to be delivered in a way that responsibly mitigates any disruption to businesses as the high street is already facing significant challenges.

“The public meeting will be an opportunity to hopefully have questions answered and we would urge businesses, and anyone in the local community with interest and concerns, to attend.”

Anyone who is unable to attend the meeting or would like a question posed on their behalf is invited to email

To view the plans for the development, please visit the Warwick District Council website by clicking here.

More details can also be found on the invitation by clicking on the images below.

The New BID Town Centre Facebook Group is HERE!

The New BID Town Centre Facebook Group is HERE!

We would love you to join us on our new Facebook Group and join in the conversation today! 

At BID Leamington, we want to hear what is happening inside your business and would love to have more communication with all of our retailers. Facebook is a great way of doing this so we have set up a closed Facebook Group for all of our retailers to join.

What is the aim of this group?

We will be using the group to share information, ideas, collaboration opportunities, member offers and generally keep up to date. It is also a safe place for you to talk about issues and challenges you are facing and a space for people to give advice about different ideas they have.

We will be updating you with:

  • Regular news and updates about the work that we are doing.
  • Regular Facebook Lives from the BID Leamington Office.
  • Interviews with business holders to give you ideas to help grow your business.
  • A space to talk openly about issues you are facing with people who have gone through the same.

We would love for you to share with the group:

  • Any news and updates on offers and discounts available at your store.
  • Information about events happening within your company or in-store.
  • Hints and Tips that you wanted to share with other retailers.
  • Any successes that you want to share with others!.

If you would like to join our group and be a part of our community, please CLICK HERE! 

Summer is in the Air

Summer is in the Air

Summer is nearly here and along with warmer temperatures and longer days, we continue to see a period of unprecedented political and economic change as well as big changes to business rates across the town. While these things are unsettling and not easy to influence, there are things we can do to navigate change and create opportunity by working together in the town centre.

Building on our strong DNA, we continue to actively promote our beautiful town centre. Extending into the digital space, we have attracted over 17,000 followers across social media streams and regularly get 30,000 visits per month to our website. We have also just launched ‘Taste Leamington’ a new branded website to promote the Food & Drink sector.

All of this helps to foster loyalty and offer customers a spectacular experience, which combined with the work local businesses are doing is very much part of the culture of ‘working together’ that we all nurture.

We are once again looking forward to our ‘Summer of Fun’ – an exciting calendar of events delivered by both BID Leamington and a huge number of volunteers. These events attract thousands of visitors every year.

Fostering a healthy trading environment has to be backed up so we are doing lots of work supporting businesses on issues such as crime, shoplifting, begging, waste management, parking, planning and enforcement.

We are also representing business interests in the face of emerging development challenges – such as the Covent Garden Carpark Development proposals. This will see the town’s largest 600 space car park developed as a mixed use site – with parking, offices and dwellings. To address potential issues we have formed a ‘Development Strategy Group’ with representation from key businesses (which is open to all) and support from WDC officers.

All of this helps the town centre and its community to remain resilient and well placed to navigate change.

However, we know that even small changes to footfall, spend and currency can impact businesses, particularly our smaller ones. That is why we continue to support businesses to stay nimble and where needed act in new ways such as embracing new technologies, building unique bundles of products and services, utilising email databases, promoting your expertise and to work together in imaginative ways.

With a number of activities and events coming up, here are a few ideas about how to capitalise on the captive audience they bring …

Making the most of events, marketing & promotions …

  • Would you like to feature in the next photo shoot … just let us know?
  • Do you have any news or offers for the – just email them through to anytime .Host a themed event in your shop.
  • We will promote it on the ‘Royal Leamington Spa’ website and in local papers.
  • Give us flyers or offers to distribute at events. We often have a stall and staff on standby to help you get involved in some way.
  • Tweet it Up! Look out for the relevant hashtags –  #LoveLeam #TasteLeam #LeamFoodFest
  • Help us bring the town alive with fabulous themed window displays…how about a cycling theme for the upcoming Woman’s Cycle Tour? (June 9th).

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like to know more.

Stephanie Kerr
May 2017

Business Rates – What is the Story for Leamington?

Business Rates – What is the Story for Leamington?

After long delays, the revaluation of business rates has been announced. The government presented this largely as a ‘good news’ story but businesses up and down the country have been raising concerns, prompting MP’s to urgently seek feedback.

So what’s the real story and what will this mean for businesses in Leamington? …

This is what I have fed back to Chris White MP whose support I am grateful for, and I welcome any further comments you have.

The changes in the town vary between sector and business size, and impact them in different ways.

Reviewing the number, we can see that more shops, pubs and restaurants (292) have seen an increase in rateable value (RV) than a decrease (248) and there were a number that did not change. While, the total decrease in rateable value is greater than the increase, it still means that around 40% of businesses are seeing an increase and this is unwelcome.

In contrast, rates have generally gone up for Warehouses, Workshops and Factories (129 up, 23 down) and down for Offices (56 up, 257 down), so this is why it is difficult to generalise when making judgements about the overall impact.

We absolutely welcome changes to rates relief that will mean the very smallest businesses in the town (rated 15K or below) benefit further.

However due to higher property values, many independent traders and high street businesses in properties with an RV above 15K will see very little change or a potential increase if their RV has risen.

This includes many businesses on Warwick and Regent Street, who in the past year have had to absorb additional costs relating to pensions, National Living Wage and a sharp increase in wholesale prices due to the devaluation of the pound post Brexit.

Also many of these businesses are not in a position to benefit from a strong on-line offer to supplement overhead costs at their premises and some are paying more for business rates than they do rent. They also contribute hugely to our interesting and vibrant local economy whose benefits are felt far beyond the town centre.

Taxing businesses solely on property value no longer reflects the economic realty, which has seen a huge rise in online shopping and growth in online businesses. It also places a disproportionate burden on independent businesses, which are considered to be the lifeblood of our town centre, and struggle to lower overhead costs through economies of scale.

Furthermore, the appeals system is cumbersome, has huge backlogs and is very stressful for business owners, as they are sometimes faced with demands for back-payments that go into the years.

Changes also negatively impact our larger businesses whose costs are also set to rise even further through the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, staff costs and because of increasing economic uncertainty.

BID Leamington asks the Government to support short-term measures such as tax relief to mitigate the impacts of these rises. We would also recommend extending the tapered rates relief threshold beyond 15K, as this would benefit a far higher percentage of small businesses in Leamington and similar towns.

In the longer term, BID Leamington supports calls from the FSB and others for the Government to commit to a major review of the Business Rating system to ensure we have a system that best supports business growth in the current environment.

If you would like to find out more about these changes and what support is available please do not hesitate to get in touch by emailing or calling 01926 470 634.

Businesses rated below 15K may need to contact Warwick District Council (WDC) to ensure they receive the rate relief they are entitled to. Alternatively please download this form and return it to WDC: 2017 APPLICATION FOR SMALL BUSINESS RELIE1

To find out your ratable value (RV) please visit:

Stephanie Kerr
21st February, 2017

BID Meeting with a Twist – Spaghetti and Segways!

BID Meeting with a Twist – Spaghetti and Segways!

Spaghetti and Segways were on the menu at a local BID Leamington business meeting for Leamington’s retailers and restaurateurs.

BID Leamington, which works to promote the town and its retail, food, and drink offering to visitors, organised the open networking event for town centre businesses, with national retail store managers and independent business owners in attendance.

Guest speakers at the event, which took place in the Royal Pump Room Gardens, were local business figures Graham Todd and Jo Ciriani of Spaghetti Agency, who gave expert advice on the digital landscape in a Q and A session, and April Weller of UK Segway Polo, who brought along Segways for guests to try out.

Stephanie Kerr, executive director of BID Leamington, said the BID recognises the significance of networking events as an important way of supporting local businesses.

“Each year we organise several networking evenings which help us get to know business owners and share ideas about how we can work together to support the local business community,” Stephanie said.

“This time we wanted to do something a little different, so we were pleased to attract both the owners of independent restaurants and retail shops as well as managers from national chain stores.

“These events are held with the aim of helping businesses to get to know each other and develop collaborative ideas and new skills, so with Todd and Jo sharing best online practice for businesses, and April encouraging attendees to network and socialise in a unique and fun way, we’re confident we achieved this.”

First to address guests was Todd, who co-founded local social media and online marketing company Spaghetti Agency, which trains businesses in the professional use of social media.

Todd, who also heads up the UK’s leading 4N group, Leamington 4Networking, said the event showed the exciting energy and entrepreneurial thirst in the town.

He said: “We love the creative and independent spirit in Leamington, and it was great to collaborate with BID Leamington. It’s always a pleasure to speak at events in the community and as big networkers we enjoy bringing businesses together to give them useful tips and ideas.

“Most businesses want to use social media and have ideas but are not always confident to use it, so I gave guidance on which social media channels are effective for different businesses. I also shared some simple tips that can be used to reach wider audiences – with the aim to ultimately increase awareness and sales.”

The session was followed by an introduction to the game of Segway Polo – a new sport which is a variant of traditional polo and hockey – which co-founder and partner of Warwick Segway Polo, April Weller, co-ordinated as part of a networking exercise.

April said: “Segway Polo really is the ‘Sport of Equals’, so we were delighted to bring along Segways and introduce guests to this new and exciting sport, which is really growing in popularity among working professionals – who are one of our key target markets.

“Warwickshire and more specifically, Warwick Segway Polo Club, is the main base for Segway Polo in the UK so the event was a great opportunity to meet local people and raise awareness of the sport, and we had a great reaction – people signed up to the Warwick Segway Polo Club Facebook page and page to attend practice sessions.”

For more information about the businesses mentioned please see:;;