We hope you are well … please read on for an overview of the weeks ahead, plus upcoming dates and activities – including news, new business and rates information we have posted or emailed about recently.
1. In the News!
Below are some headlines and updates that may have escaped your notice. Please get in touch if you would like more information.
Leamington Names as Best Place to Live in the Midlands
We were delighted to see Leamington Spa recognised as one of the best places to live in the Times. Congratulations to the businesses that were mentioned in the article – this includes some fabulous independents: “Henderson Hound, for dog paraphernalia, and Berylune for houseplants and greetings cards …. you’ll find Leamington’s best cafés, among them Spa Town Coffee and Trof”. Some of our multiple’s including Marks & Spencer, Rymans, White Stuff and Flying Tiger got a mention too. We also understand Chanel 5 was in town shooting for a documentary around this feature. Here is the link (please click). We are happy to email a copy if you cannot view this. Local editorial about this can be viewed here (please click).
Royal Leamington Spa Monopoly Board
We were pleased to learn that a Leamington edition of the board game Monopoly is to be launched later in the year (ready for Christmas). The town has been picked from the West Midlands to have its roads and landmarks feature in a set of the world-famous economics-themed board game. A variety of factors were used in selecting Royal Leamington Spa from the shortlist. These included ‘Pride’ ‘Beauty’ ‘Sense of Community’ and ‘Distinct Heritage’. You can read more about this here (please click).
2. Kings Coronation & Town Centre Events
The bunting is up and with a bit of luck, the weather will stay fine for this historic celebration. Congratulations and thank you to all the businesses who have made such a stunning job of preparing your windows. They look fantastic. We have featured over 30 businesses across our socials and there is more to come. There are also a variety of groups and organisations planning free to attend, town centre events this weekend as follows:
- SATURDAY 6 May – Leamington Spa Town Council
- King Charles III Coronation Celebration 👑
- Pump Room Gardens. 10am until 5pm.
A free, fun family day of activities to celebrate this special moment in history. There will be live music, face painting, a dog show and free workshops. Plus watch the historic Coronation live on a big screen!
- SATURDAY 6 May – All Saints Church & Enchanted
- King Charles III Coronation Celebration 👑
- All Saints Church. 1pm until 5pm.
Performances from the princesses, children’s activities, food and drink.
- SUNDAY 7 May – Kidical Mass Bike Ride
- Ride around Leamington Town Centre. 11am – 12 noon.
Starting and finishing at Victoria Park (the field opposite the play area), the ride loops around the town centre. It is open to everyone for a family-friendly ride. There will be music, there will be bubbles! For details of the route – please click here
- SUNDAY 7 May – Open Arts Festival
- OAF Bandstand Music Series presents Sing It Loud Choir.
- Pump Room Gardens. 1pm -6pm
Sing it Loud is an award-winning community choir in Leamington Spa – a choir that anyone can join regardless of their singing abilities. Sing It Loud is a not-for-profit choir set up in 2014 to help people discover the joy of singing together and to meet new people. Each year they hold 2-3 concerts with a 12-week programme of rehearsals to prepare for them. Each concert has a different theme and will contain songs from different genres and eras – something for everyone.
3. Other Upcoming Activities & Local Events Calendar
If you wish to get involved in the Leamington Food & Drink Festival bookings please get in touch as the booking deadline was 30 April. We create opportunities for everyone to get involved in this in some way so please touch base to explore ideas.
The Easter Trail was popular and attracted over 100 entries that visited ALL 64 businesses on the trail. Here is a comment from one participant:
“Thank you for organising this. My kids absolutely loved it. It took us 4 hours and we stopped for lunch at Cinda’s which we never knew of before”.
We are promoting the Little Book of Offers which is now out and contains around 54 offers from local businesses. Offers can also be posted in the royal-leamington-spa website anytime. Looking forward we will be shooting new town centre photography and videography and we recently finished a Spring ‘Weddings in Leamington’ promotion listing around 40 businesses serving this industry – featured in Live 24/7.
Many organisations other than us (BID Leamington) also run events in the town centre – and often reach out to us suggesting different forms of collaboration. We continue to look for ways to leverage value for local businesses from other events so please let us know if you have ideas or which to be put in contact with event organisers. Here are a few dates coming up.
Events run by other organisations:
- UK Cancer Kids Bikeathon* (Pump Rooms) 14 May
- Cars at the Spa* (Pump Rooms) Sunday 11 June
- Leamington Canal Festival* (Canal) 24 and 25 June
- Leamington Half Marathon* 25 June
- Pub in the Park* (Victoria Park) 30 June – 2 July
- Barkers Fun Fair* on Pump Rooms – 6 July …
- Art in the Park* (Jephson Gardens) 5 & 6 August
- National Bowls Championships* 10 – 27 August
- Warwickshire Pride* (Pump Rooms) 19 August
- National Bowls Championships* 10 – 27 August
- 60 Hour Shakespeare* (Jephson Gardens) 28 August
- Eco Fest* Saturday 2 September
4. Parking Machines On-Street (WCC)
It was brought to our attention that the parking machines on some town centre streets are not taking cash payments as they are faulty or broken. We agree that not taking cash payments in machines, is discriminatory, frustrating and worrying to customers, and bad for trade. We responded immediately and carried out an audit of the streets surrounding Park St. We found that 12 of the 16 machines we looked at were broken, and reported it to Warwickshire County Council (WCC) who controls on-street parking and enforcement, on the 27 of April.
At this time, WCC confirmed:
- Machines now and in future will take cash (however the issue now is many have faults). They also offered to speak to any businesses directly, so please let us know if you have specific feedback on this.
- They immediately actioned maintenance (battery replacement etc) on broken machines.
- That they will expedite the process for the procurement of new machines this coming year (however this will take some time, so we need a strategy in the meantime).
This week, with the support of a small group of interested businesses, we followed this up with WCC to better understand timeframes for works, and what can be done to support worried and frustrated customers. We have suggested signage on machines (directing customers to working ones or outlining changes to enforcement in streets where they are all broken) which, to date, is not yet agreed. We continue to work on this and will keep interested businesses updated.
5. BID Renewal Ballot – Businesses Voted ‘Yes’
In early April we announced the proposal to renew BID Leamington until 2028 was supported with 90% of businesses voting in favour by number and 94% by rateable value. The formal declaration can be viewed by clicking here. As set out in our five-year Business Plan, this will ensure the continuation of popular events and promotions such as the Leamington Food and Drink Festival, Love Leam, Christmas lights funding and a host of other year-round activities focused on promoting, supporting and enhancing the town centre.
We are very grateful for the trust and support the business community has shown by voting for a further five years. As many know, the BID team are absolutely committed to championing and supporting our town centre and its businesses and the past five years in particular have seen the importance of working together. We know the business environment is tough and we are determined to embrace opportunities and tackle challenges ahead. More information, including a message from our Chair, can be found here (please click). In the meantime, I wish to thank the BID Board of Directors who offer their time voluntarily and are dedicated to helping make our town the best it can be. We are looking forward to working with all local businesses and local stakeholders to deliver the new business plan and ensure our town centre is a place we are proud of.
6. Looking Forwards – Tackling Challenges & Shaping the Future Together
There is always much to do, and to plan for. In the last few weeks we have had meetings with agents representing major property owners, along with the Chief Executive of Warwick District Council. We are discussing a wide range of issues and opportunities including the treatment of vacant units, attracting new investment, waste management, mobility, policing, markets and town centre development sites and proposals.
In 2020/21 there were changes to planning regulations, including permitted development rights controlling the use of properties. This means that with limited ability to influence uses (e.g. restaurants, cafes, shops, offices etc at ground level), the curation and management of our town centre is dependent on strong relationships with key stakeholders and property owners to share our vision of shaping a vibrant and prosperous town centre that we are all proud of. BID Leamington is a key to monitoring, advocating and informing this.
The renewal of the BID also means we will be reviewing and updating contracted services in the coming months – alongside delivering our programme of marketing, events, lobbying and business representation and support. This includes preparing the tender for Christmas Lights, reviewing our ‘greening’ / hanging basket strategy for the years ahead and developing new areas of work around business support, training, environment and sustainability, and new events that may interest you. Please let us know if you wish to get involved in any of these interesting areas of work.
7. Welcoming New Businesses …
We are delighted to welcome a number of new businesses to the town centre business community.
Recent openings include:
- Grace & Vine on Guy Street
- 44 Café Bar and Bistro on Clarendon Street has been recently opened by the team behind the Windmill Hill Brewing Company. Please click here to read more.
- Hamlington’s Jewellers have recently opened on Warwick Street. Please click here to read more.
- Le Keux Vintage on Chandos Street
- Massarella + Jones Hair on Clarendon Street
- Raro Tapa on Bath Street
- Otto Kitchen on Regent Street
- Pinky Pig Deli & Cafe on Regent Street
- Little Garden on Regent Street
- Rustiq on Warwick Street
- Basseri on Park Street
We also have a number of businesses who will open soon:
- Tustains Jewellers was founded in 1895, is set to triple in size as they move to Satchwell Court – just outside the entrance to the Royal Priors Shopping Centre. Please click here to read more.
- The former Café Rouge on Regent Street – has been taken on by Matt Crowther, and will become a Greek Restaurant called Taverna Meraki. Please click here to read more.
- The former House of Fraser property is progressing, as video game developer Sumo Group has leased the entire first and second floors of the building in the Parade. Please click here to read more.
We very much look forward to supporting all new businesses in the town centre, so please reach out if you would like to arrange a meeting.
8. Business Rates & Lobbying Update
Late last year BID Leamington, alongside other BIDs nationally extensively lobbied the government for additional business support. Following this, in the November 2022 budget, it was announced that retail, leisure and hospitality businesses will benefit from 75% rates relief for the 2023/24 year (as detailed here). This is an example of our behind-the-scenes lobbying to support members. Some businesses may also have seen a drop in the rateable value of the property in the recent revaluation, which should help further. Check yours by clicking here.
This relief will apply from 1 April 2023 and should have been automatically applied to business rates invoices issued by the Council.
Please see the link here to understand who it applies to and how this is calculated. The multiplier of .0499p is used for all properties with a rateable value up to R.V. £50,999 and then the .0512p is used for anything over and above that threshold. There are some variations of this for specific cases, such as those in receipt of mandatory relief.
Please get in touch if you have any questions about this is anything else, and we are happy to help.
6. BID Support – Please Stay in Touch
As always, we will be engaging with the wider community via our social media and website platforms, sharing the ‘shop local’ message, collaborating with local organisations and producing various directories and promotional brochures.
Please look out for emails inviting you to get involved, as this is how you can leverage additional value. We love to showcase your businesses and products on our websites and social media platforms. Importantly if your circumstance change please let us know so we can update our websites and let the wider community know. Also, please email us content and ‘tag’ us into your social media posts. Please check your profile on the royal-leamington-spa.co.uk website is up to date and email us any amends.
The Royal Leamington Spa Town Centre Facebook page, Instagram, twitter and www.loveleamington.com is where we showcase what you are now doing. Please also join our Leamington Town Centre Facebook Group if you haven’t already and share your ideas, information, promotions etc. We also post updates on the BID Leamington Facebook Page and information on our refreshed BID website: www.bidleamington.com.
We know that many face challenges and our town centre is changing, however, we are stronger together. We much prefer to speak to you or come and meet, so please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or wish to arrange this🌸.
Very best wishes,
Steph, Alison & Gary