Business SOS: Worse Than the Pandemic – Business Countdown

Business SOS: Worse Than the Pandemic – Business Countdown

BUSINESSES COUNT DOWN THE DAYS AS IMMINENT COLLAPSE OF THE HIGH STREET MAY BECOME A REALITY

Following rumours of an energy prize freeze, over 150,000 businesses from across the UK are urging Government to act on spiralling energy costs which are proving more detrimental than the pandemic. The #BusinessSOS campaign warns of mass closure and redundancies if immediate and effective action isn’t taken – the true situation that Britain faces today.

The newly formed #BusinessSOS campaign, founded by organisations representing over 150,000 retail, leisure, hospitality and tourism businesses warns harm caused by the spiralling energy crisis is superseding the pandemic with the potential to cause irreversible damage to UK high streets and the economy.

The #BusinessSOS campaign believes mass closures and redundancies are inevitable if Government does not swiftly implement measures that alleviate the critical pressures that businesses, like households, have been facing since April 2022.

#BusinessSOS three-point-plan to support ailing businesses:

Reduce VAT

  • Headline rate reduced from 20% to 12.5%
  • Business energy bills reduced from 20% to 5% to match domestic billing

Business Rates Relief

  • 100% rate relief until 31st March 2023

Energy Rate Relief

  • A discounted kwh price on all business energy bills

Matthew Sims, Founder of #BusinessSOS campaign and CEO of Croydon BID said,

“The new Prime Minister has days to save the high street as we know it. The impending announcement on how the Government will tackle the energy crisis facing businesses will either ensure businesses can remain trading or set in motion mass closures and redundancies. To say the energy crisis is worse that the pandemic is not an understatement, it is the reality facing businesses today and why the clock is ticking for the new Government to provide clarity and introduce measures providing tangible and immediate relief.”

Stephanie Kerr, Executive Director, BID Leamington said:

“BID Leamington is supporting the Business SOS campaign which calls for critical support for businesses as spiralling energy costs alongside other increases threaten the sustainability of businesses and our town centre.

“In some cases, their energy bills have more than tripled, alongside facing labour shortages and increases in the cost of insurance, wages, deliveries, haulage, products and more. This level of inflation cannot be passed onto the customer, as they too face cost of living challenges.

“Alongside this desperately needed government support, we are also calling on our Local Authority partners to identify support initiatives that they can deliver locally to help businesses, staff and customers.”

Andrew Taylor, Founder of #BusinessSOS campaign and Managing Director of Bart & Taylor said,

“Without immediate intervention local communities will change forever as they lose their social spaces. For the first time in living memory, energy costs are now greater than rent and increasing on a daily basis in the absence of any intervention or price cap since April. After surviving the pandemic it seems ludicrous that the needs of businesses are currently not being heard and could see the billions of funding provided during the pandemic go to waste.”

Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality, said,

“The hospitality sector is crucial to delivering the business-led growth the new Government is striving for, but we are facing an existential crisis due to soaring energy bills. We’re encouraged by the new Prime Minister’s commitment to tackling energy prices, but we need to see urgent, comprehensive action. As well as a price freeze, we need to see a cut to VAT and a business rates holiday if businesses in the sector are to have any hope of making it through the winter.”

Bill Addy CEO of Liverpool BID and Chair of The BID Foundation said,

“Businesses recognise that they benefited from the immediate support given them during the pandemic but we are in danger of all that support being thrown away as those same businesses that have worked valiantly to recover will be decimated by the cost of living  crisis. Business is now at a watershed moment that needs an urgent response from our new Prime Minister, they need hope and certainty if they are to survive. It is business that will ensure that UK can grew the economy out of the coming recession but do that business needs to survive and that requires urgent action.”

Ojay McDonald, CEO of Association of Town and City Management said,

“Right now, businesses are already deciding to scale back or shut up shop for good. The knock-on impact on employment is unimaginably bad. We need decisive action from the government now to save the high street.

Let’s not shy away from how comprehensive this support needs to be. Energy prices have been unsustainable for months. We are at the stage where a price freeze is inadequate. Discounts on the cost of energy are vital. We also need to halt the decline of consumer confidence to keep businesses trading. That’s why this three-point plan on energy, VAT and businesses rates as a combination is the right route to take.”

Michael Kill, CEO of Night Time Industries Association said,

“Over the last week we have seen a huge escalation in closure notices from pubs, bars, restaurants, venues and clubs across the country, with over 70% of businesses stating they will be financially compromised within weeks, all of which have stated untenable operating costs as reasons too close.”

“The industry’s future is finely balanced between the delivery of an imminent survival package by the new Chancellor and continued consumer spend and confidence!”

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said:

“The pub and brewing sector makes a huge contribution to our economy in high streets and local communities throughout the country, yet it still remains in a precarious position after the pandemic. Immediate action on energy is critical, but investment in our sector for the long-term is also essential. As the PM works towards a fiscal statement and full budget we hope she will seriously consider a cut to business rates and VAT so Britain’s pubs and brewers can get back on their feet fully and thrive in the communities they proudly serve.”

Joss Croft, CEO, UKinbound said,

“For the UK’s inbound visitor economy, a £28.4 billion export industry, to continue its recovery and exceed pre-pandemic levels, a fully functioning domestic leisure, retail and hospitality industry is absolutely paramount, however the current inflation and energy crisis is set to derail this. We need swift and decisive action from Government to safeguard businesses and jobs across the country.

For all media enquiries and interviews, please contact Katie Blake on 07827812813

 

May Update: Upcoming Events, Celebrations & Activities

May Update: Upcoming Events, Celebrations & Activities

We hope you are well. Please see below for a quick update on activities and promotions you can get involved in – as well as key dates for your diary. Some like the ‘offers’ opportunities and website updates are more immediate, while the Lights of Leamington research seeks to understand your views for the future. We are also very aware of the challenges facing businesses and our community in terms of rising costs so please look out for an email soon with details of a support package (including an energy audit and savings advice) we are putting together.

 

1. Little Book Of Offers, Taste Leamington & Art in the Spa

An offers book will be produced ready for the summer and autumn season – and is open to all. Also, alongside our ‘art in the spa’ directory, we will also produce a ‘taste’ directory produced to go directly into the hands of visitors. Offers can be valid from mid-July to October, to cover the Commonwealth Games, Art in the Park, and Food & Drink Festival.

Please drop us an email with your offer by the 8th of June, if you wish to be included? 

 

2. The Lights of Leamington Research

As previously reported, a local steering group has secured grant funding from Arts Council England to research the return of this amazing historical event – and the feasibility study is now well underway. We very much want to hear from the business community as we know that events like this must draw people into town and involve local businesses.

Curated Place will be hosting online workshops with local businesses and the creative community and / or please complete our survey (if you haven’t already). It takes around 15min and has a specific business section where we want to understand how this can benefit you. This might be by using your products or expertise, running the event in a quiet time of year, or having installations located in different places around town – so we would love to capture this information from you.

ALSO – please email us, if you are interested in attending an online workshop to learn more? (outside of core work hours, no more than 1 hour, date in June TBC).

 

3. Queens Jubilee – Windows and Bunting

We will be showcasing all of your Jubilee inspired shop window designs throughout the month across digital channels. Please let us know if you would like any ‘red, white and blue’ bunting?

 

4. Dates for the Diary

Please see below and at this link (please click) a list of upcoming events between now and September, that you may wish to note in the diary and / or get more involved in. Please note, only the Food Festival is solely organised by us, but we are in contact with the organisers of other events if you wish to find out more.

Date Event Name  Location
02 until 05 June Queens Jubilee Weekend Town Centre
02 June The lighting of the Beacon Town Centre & Pump Rooms
04 June  Right Royal Picnic  Pump Room Gardens
26 June Leam Half Marathon Town
28 Jul until 8 August  Commonwealth Games – Big screen  Pump Room Gardens
29 Jul until 6 August Commonwealth Games Bowls Victoria Park
13 & 14 August  Art in the Park Jephson Gardens
14 August Bikerlott Old Town
20 August Warwickshire Pride Pump Room Gardens
25 Aug until 11 Sep National Bowls Competition Victoria Park
10 & 11 September  Leamington Food Festival* Pump Room Gardens
25 September Cars at the Spa Pump Room Gardens
Last Sunday each month Covent Garden Quarter Markets Warwick Street

 

5. Attract, Surprise, Inspire, Delight, Support and Lobby

Right now there is a lot happening behind the scenes and the BID Board is meeting regularly to discuss ideas and offer feedback.

We are planning activities that will attract, surprise, inspire and delight visitors in our town centre, and showcase local businesses and products, and well as a package of bespoke business support measures.

We are also speaking to local authorities, the LEP, MP, and investors and working with others to secure more support for businesses. This includes identifying (and lobbying for) grants and advice to support energy and business cost savings, engaging on new town centre developments and investment (e.g. the Argos site and House of Fraser’s new tenant Sumo, Future High St Fund and Share Prosperity Fund), vigorously challenging local price rises to services (car parking, parks etc), reviewing government proposals on business rates multiplier freeze /online tax (debate), tackling local vacant units and engaging with emerging government policy on this complex issue, and addressing emerging policy on carbon taxes and waste, among other things. There is a dizzying array of information circulating, which we will summarise as things become clearer.

This will be relevant to all sectors in different ways – so please keep a watch out for forthcoming emails and our newsletter very soon. For now, we wanted to keep this short as we know you are busy.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have ideas or wish to learn more. Also, don’t forget to keep sending us your offers, product photos, promotions, job opportunities – and anything you wish for us to promote on our website and social media. A quick email to info@bidleamington.com is all it takes.

Best wishes, 

Steph and Alison

Spring into Leam, Jubilee, Bunting & Commonwealth Games!

Spring into Leam, Jubilee, Bunting & Commonwealth Games!

We have been busy over the first quarter of 2022 delivering local events and promotions, and planning for a huge summer ahead. This has been done in partnership with local people and organisations and where possible, by utilising the remaining EU Covid support funding (which is why you may see EU logos on artworks). Below is a list of activities that you may have seen or are coming up …

Welcome Back – Spring into Leamington 

With the support of some Covid funding and various partners, a program of events and promotions has been delivered throughout March aiming to lift the spirits and welcome people into town. All of the events and promotions had to be delivered in March to meet funding requirements. This included:

  • Three weekends of music on the bandstand in partnership with OAF! and Warwick District Council.
  • Four weeks of ‘Spring into Leamington’ advertising in local papers and across social media.
  • Spring into Leamington Radio Advertising with Bauer (Free Radio) all month
  • Love Leamington advert in Live 24/7 Magazine
  • Show your Love – nominate a person promotion

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Showcasing our Hospitality Sector

Also with the support of  Covid funding, we are delivering a project celebrating our hospitality sector throughout March. With the help of popular food writer and presenter  Ellen Manning we are producing four blogs and a promotional video. We are aiming to feature as many businesses as possible and the outputs will feature on our websites, partner websites and across all our social media channels. The blogs include:

  • Where to Eat in Leamington this Spring – featuring many new businesses. Please click here to read.
  • A Meal for Every Occasion – coming soon.
  • Around the world without leaving Leamington – coming soon.
  • Leamington’s Food & Drink Festival – coming soon.

Our Taste Leamington Showreel (film) will be launching soon and we are grateful for the incredible support of the businesses involved.

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Queens Jubilee Preparations

The Queens 70th Jubilee celebrations will be in June (2nd – 5th) however the Royal Town of Leamington Spa will be celebrating this incredible achievement  throughout the year and our objectives are to maximize our investment, bring people together in the heart of our town, and where possible, create a legacy. Plans are still being finalised however for now we can announce:

  • Red, White and Blue bunting has been purchased to decorate the town centre. This will be installed by the end of March. We also have some surprise corgi’s on the way. Please watch this space!
  • We are organising a ‘Right Royal Picnic’ in the Pump Room Gardens on Saturday the 4th of June. This will be an inclusive, community-orientated celebration with fun activities, music and entertainment in the Pump Rooms. There will also be fun trails around town, competitions, and creative surprises aiming to invite people into the town centre and enhance the experience, also planned around this date. We are very grateful to Royal Leamington Spa Town Council for helping to fund this activity.
  • Warwick District Council will be lighting a Jubilee beacon in the Town Centre on Thursday 2nd June. This will include a town crier.
  • Our stunning floral baskets will be installed in early June.

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Little Book of Offers & Easter Trail

Other popular promotions including our  Little Book of Offers and Easter Trail are also returning and we are grateful for the contribution and support from local businesses. Key dates and figures include:

  • Little Book of Offers (featuring 57 offers) – available April 1st
  • Easter Trail (featuring 56 businesses) – runs 15th April to 22nd April

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Lights of Leamington

We have secured some grant funding from Arts Council England to research the return of this amazing historical event. The lights attracted thousands of visitors to our town from 1951 to 1961 and many people have fond memories of this spectacular event. This also inspired the Leamington Lantern Parade, an event we have been running for 10 years now. In this time many people have discussed the idea of ‘reigniting’ the Lights of Leamington however it would be a significant task and community, business and wider stakeholder support would be essential. This is why the Arts Council England has supported us to carry out a feasibility study to understand all aspects of the idea.

We have created a website and social media pages to provide background information and keep people up to date. There is also a survey we would be grateful if you can complete:

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The Commonwealth Games

Leamington Spa is hosting the bowls for the Commonwealth Games and we are expecting approximately 5000 visitors per day to the bowls venue over 9 days. There is a lot of work being done in preparation and we are having regular meetings with organisers. The aim is to maximise benefits to local businesses and minimise road closures or activities that may interrupt business. Alongside this, BID Leamington will be launching a refreshed Royal Leamington Spa website and preparing a variety of maps and guides to be distributed to visitors.

Key information on the games can be seen by clicking here.

Please see below a brief Q&A with key facts and figures that we know to date:

  1. What are the key dates of local bowls and cycling events?
    • Bowls competitions – 29th July until 6th Aug (2 sessions per day – over 9 days)
    • Cycle Road Races – Sun 7th August (Women race in the morning; Men’s afternoon). The route is here – please click.
  2. What is happening at the Pump Room Gardens?
    • This will be a public ‘live site’ with a big screen showing the games for 12 days (28th July – 8th August).
    • On Thursday 28th July – late afternoon activities for families, leading into the evening for the Opening ceremony.
    • The site will be open daily during Games from 10am – 10pm;
    • It will be based on an informal “village green” principle – free entry, bring your picnics, watch live events on the big screen. There will be some food and drink vendors on site but not many to encourage people into town. Key dates will also include some “street entertainers”.
  3. How many people are coming to the bowls event?
    • There are 5000 ticketed spectators a day – over two bowls session (am and pm).
  4. How will this benefit businesses?
    • Opportunities to promote local businesses (e.g. maps, guides, offers) are being discussed with B2022 (organisers). The ‘Live Site’ will be promoted and the route between the venue and the town centre will be signposted and extensively decorated.
  5. Will the town centre be decorated?
    • There will be colorful decorations in 4 key areas: Town centre, Live Site, Railway Station and walking route from station to Victoria Park. Also, some out-of-town dressing to welcome visitor upon arrival. Installation dates are still TBC.
  6. What works are going on around town and when will they be complete?
    • Town Centre Signage upgrade including new monoliths to be installed May/June.
    • Train Station concourse improvements – ongoing, completion due mid-June.
    • Improvements to Princes Drive car park – work about to commence.
    • The Traffic Management Plan will be signed off in the next 2 weeks by the local authority and we will update you further at this time.
  7. What else is going on and how can I make contact?

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Please watch this space as there is much more to come and please get in touch if you have ideas you wish us to consider. Alongside this, we continue to constantly promote, support, and champion the town centre and it’s businesses via our social media channels.

We want this to be a year of community and bringing people together and must continue to support each other as we manage the uncertainty and health challenges before us.

Best wishes, Steph, Alison and Gary (the BID team)

March Update: Meeting, Rates, Road Works & Events

March Update: Meeting, Rates, Road Works & Events

We hope you are all well. Please see below a quick update on some questions that have been coming to us lately – and information about our upcoming business meeting.

BID Business Meeting: Wednesday 30th March
The Royal Pug (141 Regent Street, upstairs)
Arrive 5.30pm for a 6pm start.

Please see (image above) our invitation to our next Business Meeting. This will be an opportunity to hear about the variety of events and activities coming up in town. This includes the 70th Queens Jubilee Celebrations and the Commonwealth Games and we will be joined by representatives organising this. We will also update you on emerging developments and investment in the town centre – as well as all our upcoming promotions and activities.

Please email info@bidleamington.com if you wish to join us, so we can plan for your attendance.

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Road Works 

We have fed back business concerns relating to the impact of the extensive road works in and around Leamington to Warwickshire County Council and Warwick District Council. The issue has also been raised and discussed in parliament by our local MP Matt Weston. Like many, we feel there should have been better planning and coordination between the various agencies delivering works this year. Questions have also been raised about the timing of some works given we had a period of two years during Covid when roads were quieter.

However, we are conscious of how we mitigate impacts now and have asked Warwickshire County Council about compensation for businesses. You can also write to them by clicking here. As below we are also busy planning to activate the town centre wonderfully this summer.

To stay up to date with current works – and plan for future ones please see this link to a local map of planned works.

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Business Rates Information

A number of businesses have asked us about what businesses rates they will be paying in the year ahead (1st April 2022 – 31st March 2023). As in the past, the amount you pay is related to the rateable value of the property from which you do business and the type of business you are (i.e. retail, hospitality, office etc). The rates multiplier and any rates relief is then applied. You can find your rateable value on the VOA by clicking here.

Please see some key information for 2022 – 23:

  • Small Business Rate Relief will continue at 100% for eligible businesses with a rateable value of 12,000 or less and on a % sliding scale for those with a rateable value of 12,001 – 14,999.
  • At the Budget, on 27th October 2021, the Chancellor announced the introduction of a new business rates relief scheme for retail, hospitality and leisure properties worth almost £1.7 billion in 2022-23. This will support the businesses that make our high streets and town centres a success and help them to evolve and adapt to changing consumer demands.
  • The 2022/23 Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Rates Relief scheme will provide eligible, occupied, retail, hospitality and leisure properties with a 50% relief, up to a cash cap limit of £110,000 per business.
  • The Government anticipates that local authorities will include details of the relief to be provided to eligible ratepayers for 2022/23 in their bills for the beginning of the 2022/23 billing cycle.
  • The guidance sets out the eligibility criteria for the scheme – as well as some examples of how it will be applied, can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/business-rates-guidance-202223-retail-hospitality-and-leisure-relief-scheme/202223-retail-hospitality-and-leisure-relief-scheme-local-authority-guidance
  • The Business Rates multiplier rate is also staying the same this year with no increase.

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Some Key Dates for Your Diary

Below are some keys dates of interest. We will update you further on activities surrounding these events at our Business Meeting – and in our forthcoming newsletter. Please do not hesitate to give us a call if you wish to discuss any of these in more detail.

Please note, the events with * are organised by BID Leamington. The others are organised by various other groups and organisations with whom we have some contact so can put you in touch.

Dates – 2022 Event
Last Sunday each month starting February Covent Garden Quarter Markets (Warwick Street)
10th April Regency Run
15th– 18th April Easter Weekend Trail and Activities*
2nd until 5th June  (4 day public holiday) Queens Jubilee Weekend
4th June Leamington ‘Right Royal Picnic’ Jubilee Event in the Pump Room Gardens*
26th June Leam Half Marathon
28th July until 8th August (12 days) Commonwealth Games – LIVE site and Big screen in Pump Room Gardens
29th July until 6th August Commonwealth Games Bowls in Victoria Park
13th & 14th August Art in the Park  
20th August Warwickshire Pride
25th August until 11th September National Bowls Competition – Victoria Park
10th & 11th September Leamington Food Festival*
25th September Cars at the Spa
October onwards Sunday Markets
31st October Halloween Trail*
November onwards Christmas Markets
TBC Christmas Light Switch-on
5th December Leamington Lantern Parade*

 

As always, we have lots of news, events and activities coming up, so please look out for our future updates.

You may have seen in recent news we are working with a small group of partners to deliver a feasibility study investigating a future event in Leamington – reigniting the historic ‘Lights of Leamington’. Information and a survey on this can be found here: https://lightsofleamington.co.uk/. You can also find out more via this Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/LightsofLeamington.

Don’t forget the Royal Leamington Spa Town Centre Facebook page, Instagram and twitter is where we showcase what you are doing / offering. 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 here on our website.

Please stay in touch and we look forward to seeing you soon,

Steph and Alison

Lights of Leamington Feasibility Study Begins

Lights of Leamington Feasibility Study Begins

Memories of a historic community event, which treated visitors to a kaleidoscope of light installations, music and performances, are being sought as part of a study which could see it return to Leamington.

BID Leamington has secured funding from Arts Council England to conduct a feasibility study into reviving the Lights of Leamington festival for the town.

The festival ran in Jephson Gardens in July and August from 1951 to 1961 and saw the park and its trees lit in a rainbow of colour, including installations like magical animals, characters from fairy tales and city skylines.

There were also clowns and puppets, an open-air ballet, and food and drink stalls run by local businesses at the event which brought hundreds of thousands of visitors to Leamington.

A steering group has now been created which will be conducting a feasibility study in conjunction with Curated Place, an award-winning creative arts production company, to explore how the festival could be brought back with a renewed purpose for the businesses, communities and people of Leamington.

The research will consider how the event would be funded, what the modern-day festival could look like, the logistics of delivering it and most importantly, if it is something that residents across the area would welcome.

As part of this, those who attended or worked at the original event over the years are being encouraged to share their memories of Lights of Leamington, reflecting on what made it special and why it was so popular.

Residents, businesses and community groups across Leamington will be invited to sign up for workshops where they can get involved in the exciting challenge of making the historic festival fit for the 21st century and what they might like it to include.

Anyone who would like to contribute is being invited to first complete a short survey and register their interest for ongoing updates at www.lightsofleamington.co.uk. A Lights of Leamington Facebook page has also been created to capture people’s thoughts and keep people informed of opportunities to get involved.

The potential return of the event has already received support from MP Matt Western, Royal Leamington Spa Town Council, Warwick District Council and Warwick District Creative Compact.

Stephanie Kerr, executive director of BID Leamington, said: “We were thrilled to receive a research grant from Arts Council England to see if it is possible to bring Lights of Leamington back.

“The approach of the BID is to help make the town centre a community centre, so we want to make sure the community is meaningfully involved in shaping the idea.

“We want to gauge interest and support and find out everything from what people would like to see and how it could be delivered, to the time of year they think it should take place.

“Our hope is to reinvent the festival for a new generation, embracing new technologies while reflecting its history, and we are very excited to be working with Curated Place, who bring considerable experience and expertise.”

Andy Brydon, director of Curated Place, said: “We are delighted to be working on this unique project that is deeply rooted in the history and memory of Leamington Spa.

“We specialise in planning, developing, delivering, managing and marketing major arts and music commissions, festivals, exhibitions across the UK and internationally.

“Drawing on our passion and experience, we will engage with the community and conduct research to map out a plan for bringing the Lights back to Leamington in a way that is both authentic to the memory but also looking to the future.”

Councillor Liam Bartlett, Warwick District Council Portfolio holder for Culture, Tourism and Leisure, added: “Lights of Leamington was a very special community event that ran for over 10 years and we know many people have fond memories of attending.

“We are very much in support of the feasibility study approach and look forward to seeing the outcome of the research.”

For more information, please see:

OUR SURVEY: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/HX2JG5D

WEBSITE: www.lightsofleamington.co.uk/

FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/LightsofLeamington