Earlier this year the business community in Weston Town Centre voted in favour of the town becoming a Business Improvement District. BID Win
The North Somerset Business Leader recently caught up with Weston BID Chairman Tim Lamb to find out more about the BID and how the plans are progressing.
What was your initial reaction to securing a yes vote?
“Obviously very pleased personally, having been involved in the process and of course delighted for the town. This is a resounding mandate for a scheme to turn the town around in these difficult times.
The Mary Portas Review of the ‘High Street’ last year recommended BIDs as a key component to the recovery of many of our ailing town centres. I am delighted that Weston businesses have put their weight and support behind this scheme; we look forward to better times ahead for our town.”
As elected Chairman, in five year’s time, what would you like to have achieved? *
“I would have liked to have left a legacy in place and accomplished a strategic and comprehensive plan. It would be great if we can look back and say that we accomplished all that we set out to.
Also it would to be great think that we can secure a vote of confidence by securing a second term on the back of all the positive things put in place.*
At the end of the day it is businesses’ money that we’re spending and the legacy will have to be one that demonstrates the scheme has served the bid levy payers and the people who visit and live in Weston.”
*Similar to a fixed term parliament, the BID scheme runs for five years after which businesses go the ballot box again to decide if they want to secure another five years.
Is there a system in place whereby businesses can see actually measure how the BID is benefitting them?
“All businesses in the BID area will receive a periodic newsletter which is also available, along with other information, on the town centre partnership website.
There is also a BID steering group with an elected member for each zone in the Town Centre. It is in effect, structured like a local authority so each ward has a BID representative. Business in their respective wards can ask their rep to update them on how the scheme is working for them.
Practical day to day management of this is overseen by Steve Townsend who is Town Centre Manager and has been doing a fantastic job for many years in building a strong relationship with the business community and operating a dialogue.
*The Weston BID area has been split into six zones, with a BID representative representing each zone. These are Cllr Mark Canniford, Michelle Michael, Mike Chetter, Paul Batts, Nick Cooke and Tim Lamb.”
What message do you have for businesses that voted no?
“I extremely appreciate they are contributing funds in a difficult economic environment and may not have voted for the scheme.
But I would like to say to them – watch this space because we wouldn’t be undertaking this if we didn’t feel it was going to do the town real good and make the place a better for business and tourists.
Mary Portas’ High Street Review said that BIDs are an integral part to turning around the fortunes of the UK High Streets and a proven recipe for success. I and the BID team are going to work extremely hard to ensure it is a success in this town, for those businesses that voted yes and no.”
When can businesses expect to see the projects outlined in the business plan coming to life?
“A few things have happened already in the town such as the erection of the town square hanging baskets which have been driven by the BID.
Things will of course become more noticeable and tangible when BID wardens and ambassadors start to take to the street and we anticipate the end of July for this. They will be responsible for ensuring the streets are clean and safe and will deal with any security issues.
Also two weeks ago we appointed the street management company, which is the locally based Vanguard Security. This was subject to an extremely robust appraisal that two national and two local companies were subjected to.
So things are starting to move and we also have plans to promote the town via a television advertising campaign and put on events.
We’re also working on creating a tourism website with Weston Town Council which we are looking to have operational by the end of the year.”
Can you tell readers more about the plans for an advert?
“It’s still a work in progress. We have a substantial sum of our marketing budget to spend on this and we are hopeful we will get it off the ground sooner rather than later. It remains a tactic of our strategy and us and other parties are committed to it.
With the advert we hope to attract thousands more visitors to Weston which is a top priority, as well as getting people from the surrounding areas to visit Weston more regularly. We’re aiming to have something in place for this summer but realise we’re up against it time wise.”
How are you working together with other stakeholders and agencies?
“Both North Somerset Council and Weston Town Council have a long-standing relationship with Weston Town Centre Partnership and Steve Townsend – one of the main drivers behind the Weston BID.
All organisations have the ultimate same goal, which is the betterment of Weston-super-Mare. We’ve all only got a finite budget so it’s important everyone works together, which is what we’re doing.”
How do you rate Weston against other town’s you’ve visited?
“There is a healthy dissatisfaction from some people regarding parts of the town but hopefully the BID can focus on some of these obstacles and solve them.
In reality there has been a lot of investment, both public and private in the area, more so than many other sea side towns and it is a much better place than it was if you look back five years and in five-year’s time I think it will be a better place still.
With my work I’ve been all around the country and seen many worse places than Weston-super-Mare – it has a lot of potential and I feel that we’re starting to realise that now.”
To find out more about The BID please visit: www.wsmtcp.co.uk
In June 2008 Tim Lamb, of Lambtrad, took over the franchise of McDonald’s restaurants in Weston Town Centre, Queensway Worle and Portishead. In 2011 Lambtrad was crowned Business of The Year at the annual Sian Lloyd Jones Business Awards: http://www.westonecho.co.uk/echo-attends-sian-lloyd-jones-business-awards/1844/