Our Annual Report, Invoicing & Next Steps

Our Annual Report, Invoicing & Next Steps

Our Annual Report, Invoicing & The Next Steps

Afternoon everyone,

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 2020-2021 Annual Report  (please click). This report draws to an end the third of BID Leamington’s five-year term (2018-2023) and whilst we face significant 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 a third time, 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 over the past year have revealed the enormous strain that many businesses are under and the varying circumstances they face. At this time, some have been able to trade through the crisis, whilst others remain closed and we are all awaiting government announcements in the lead up to July 19th, 2021.

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 described 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 future transformation. We also remain focused on direct business support and continue to work with partners to lobby for further support as restrictions continue.

 

Our Recovery Approach & 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 on the High Streets Task Force website.

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. At this stage, we are in the phase of guiding positive transformation – and as described within our report (p6) and below, there is a lot to look forward to in the coming year. Alongside this, we are working with local partners to coordinate recovery efforts, investments, and strategic decisions that will positively shape our town centre in future.

Reflecting on the path forwards, we have been invited by various partner organisations to discuss our approach and ideas – which can be viewed online. Specifically, the Leamington Society invited us to talk about the future of Leamington, and elaborate on some local issues including the Parade closure. This talk and a number of others can be found here:

We also advocate community placemaking … as a small team of two, much of what we can achieve locally depends on the support of many others in the community. We are very lucky in Leamington to have an incredible community in this respect.

Finally, for a little more insight into our approach and thinking, you may find this interesting – it was our ‘floral approach’ to ‘tactical urbanism’ showcased last year by the High Streets Task Force (HSTF):

 

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 annually 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, 2021. 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 info@bidleamington.com. 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 2020-2021, the value of your BID is more important than ever. Building on our excellent track record of delivery, many of you have experienced or seen how valuable our work has been. 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.

This includes the Commonwealth Games in July 2022, which will see Leamington Spa host the bowls competition, as well as significant investment coming forward through the Future High Streets Fund (£10 million) and other private schemes. The work builds on our existing town vision and will be adapted to meet emerging needs and embrace local creativity and innovation. 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

 

 

Business Update: Restart Grant – Applications Open

Business Update: Restart Grant – Applications Open

Business Update: Restart Grant – Applications Open

We hope you are all well and able to enjoy the start of the Easter and lighter evenings …Below is some important and welcome information relating to the ‘restart grants’ you do need to apply online this time…

1.  Business ‘Restart Grant’ – Applications Now Open

The restart grant relates to the announcement of further grant funding for retail, hospitality and leisure sector businesses in the Chancellors budget on 3 March. For eligible businesses (please see the link below), there is 1 x grant per rateable premise. There are two ‘stands’ of funding, offering different lump sum amounts as follows:

  • Strand one – Non-essential retail (rated premises – please see eligibility lists)
    • RV of £15,000 or under – One off payment of £2667
    • RV of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 – One off payment of £4000
    • RV of exactly £51,000 or over – One off payment of £6000
  • Strand two – Hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym (rated premises – please see eligibility lists)
    • RV of £15,000 or under – One off payment of £8000
    • RV of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 – One off payment of £12000
    • RV of exactly £51,000 or over – One off payment of £18000

It has now been confirmed you do need to complete a new online application for this scheme.

You will see there are a number of questions, as well as some mandatory information that has been added by BEISS this time around.

Payments to businesses will begin being made after the 6th of April, 2021.

ALL WDC Information and Eligibility Criteria can be found here: https://www.warwickdc.gov.uk/info/20068/business_awards_and_grants/1683/restart_grants

The Online Application Form is here: https://www.warwickdc.gov.uk/xfp/form/244

We hope this is welcome news for many of you – but we are always conscious of those who are not eligible / excluded and fall through the funding gaps. Reflecting this, we have already reached out to WDC to make a case for additional support for these businesses and we will keep you informed, however we always welcome your thoughts.

Full government guidance on the ‘restart scheme’ can be found by clicking here (PDF) doc.

To check your rateable value on the VOA please click here: https://www.gov.uk/correct-your-business-rates

 

2. Other Existing Grant Schemes

‘Closed Business Grant’ Scheme (16th February to 31st March, 2021)

WDC notified us around 3rd March that they had made a bulk payment to ‘closed businesses’ for the ongoing closed grants to cover the period from 16th February to 31st March. For many businesses this payment was automatic, based on you having previously applied for earlier grants, however for those that are new or had not previously applied, you still have up to 31 May 2021 to apply (if you have not done so already).

The details of the grant scheme, including amounts and links to apply retrospectively are here: https://www.warwickdc.gov.uk/info/20068/business_awards_and_grants/1684/closed_business_payment_from_16_february_to_31_march

New ARG Grant Scheme for Taxi Drivers and Private Hire Firms

We appreciate this may not be relevant to most of our members, but if you know anyone who may benefit from their please forward on the details. There is a new ARG scheme starting at Midday Friday 9th April. This ARG part F is exclusive to taxi drivers and private hire firms only. Details and eligibility criteria are here: https://www.warwickdc.gov.uk/info/20068/business_awards_and_grants/1638/additional_restrictions_grant_arg

Any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask …

 

3. Looking Forwards 

We continue to look toward April 12th with our fingers crossed and are working on a variety of plans to support the safe opening of our town centre.

In the meantime, please reach out if there is anything we can support you with. Don’t forget you can find a range of support information contained in previous emails and on our website including:

 

Also, the Royal Leamington Spa Town Centre Facebook page, Instagramtwitter and www.loveleamington.com is where we showcase what you are now doing, so please keep us updated on your plans.

Please 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 website: www.bidleamington.com.

Best wishes – please take care and stay in touch.

Best wishes – please take care and stay in touch …

Steph & Alison

The Great Easter Egg Hunt

The Great Easter Egg Hunt

The Great Easter Egg Hunt

An Easter egg hunt in Leamington town centre this April is aiming to hatch a bit of fun while encouraging families to support their high street as lockdown restrictions ease.

Encompassing 50 shops, The Great Easter Egg Hunt will run from Thursday April 1 to Wednesday April 28 and will also introduce treasure hunters to some new businesses as well.

BID Leamington has organised two trails around the town centre where colourful eggs will be displayed in shop windows.

There are two ‘golden eggs’ to be found, one on each route. Once found, the treasure hunters just have to jot down the name of the shop onto the entry form to be entered into a grand prize draw to be in with a chance to win one of five £50 vouchers to be spent in Leamington Spa town centre shops.

There is also an adaptation of the trail online at www.loveleamington.com for those who cannot make it into the town centre.

The Great Easter Egg Hunt coincides with the planned reopening of shops on April 12, and Alison Shaw, BID Project Manager at BID Leamington, hopes it will encourage people back into the town.

She said: “We wanted to spread a bit of Easter fun around Leamington and give families a reason to come back into the town and visit our fantastic shops.

“It’s a great way for people to explore the town again, visit a wide range of retailers and enjoy themselves after what’s been a tough year.

“We hope plenty of people give The Great Easter Egg Hunt a go, and we’re looking forward to seeing our shops welcome back their customers once again.”

Treasure hunters can also view artwork from youngsters who participated in the ‘I Love Leamington’ campaign organised jointly with Go Go Makers, who asked children to create a self-portrait inside a heart – including the words ‘I Love Leamington’.

Their pictures are now on display in a selection of shop windows until April 6, and will then be displayed in the Royal Priors Shopping Centre after April 12.

Alison added: “We’re delighted with what the young artists have created. Their work and the Great Easter Egg Hunt will both help to encourage people into town as our shops reopen.”

Entry forms for the Great Easter Egg Hunt can be downloaded online at www.loveleamington.com, can be picked up from the white unit on the Lower Mall of Royal Priors, or can be found in the Leamington Observer. Forms will also be available from shops once they have re-opened. A post box for posting entries will be located at Coffee Break on the Upper Mall of Royal Priors, or entries can be posted directly to BID Leamington.

Closing date for postal and online entries is Wednesday, April 28 and the winner will be notified by Wednesday, 5 May.

Further information can be found on www.loveleamington.com.

Image: Alison Shaw (left) with Esquires owner Martin Brown.

Business Update: Grants, Rates, Closures, Outside Trading

Business Update: Grants, Rates, Closures, Outside Trading

Business Update: Grants, Rates, Closures, Outside Trading

Morning everyone,

I hope you are all well.

We are looking towards April 12th with our fingers crossed and working on a variety of plans to support the safe opening of our town centre. This quick update covers the following:   

  1. Grant Funding & Business Rates Relief
  2. Parade Road Closure Update
  3. Pavement & Highway Trading Licencing – Hospitality Sector
  4. Next Steps, Events, Please Stay in Touch…

 

1.  Grant Funding & Business Rates Relief

Business Restart Grant (April onwards)

WDC grant updates and information is here: https://www.warwickdc.gov.uk/info/20068/business_awards_and_grants.

Following the announcement of further grant funding for retail, hospitality and leisure sector businesses in the Chancellors budget on 3 March, WDC are still awaiting guidance from BEIS on this scheme. Accordingly they are unable to provide businesses with detailed information about applicable amounts or qualifying criteria.

The expectation is that guidance will be published on March 22nd and that no payments can be made before April. We are not yet sure if there will be an application process either. We know this support funding is urgently needed and will keep you updated.

Retail Relief for 2021/22

Also announced in the Chancellors March 3 budget, was an extension to retail relief and nursery relief. Eligible businesses will get 100% of retail or nursery relief until 30 June 2021. After this date, 66% relief will be awarded.

WDC have confirmed that businesses will not be issued with a bill for the 100% relief period until June. A new bill will be issued in June showing the 66% relief and the instalments for the rest of the financial year.

If you wish to opt out of these reliefs being applied to your account, please send an enquiry form to the business rates team, clearly stating you wish to opt out and stating your business rate reference number.

Grant Closing Dates:

Please note, all of the existing grant schemes have closing dates.

So, if you have not applied / received any grant funding to date, or know someone who has a business who has not applied, please encourage them to make contact with Warwick District Council. This is particularly relevant to new businesses. Please see this link for relevant closing dates and details: https://www.warwickdc.gov.uk/info/20068/business_awards_and_grants.

Of note, all of the LRSG payments end on 31st march for new applications, except for the payment period of 16th Feb – 31st March, which closes for new applications on 31st May. So effectively, if someone applies on 1st April for retrospective closed payments, they’ll only be able to have paid the period from 16th Feb – 31st March, regardless of if they’ve been closed since 5th November.

Any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

 

2.  Parade Closure Update

Thank you to those who took part in our survey. The closure of the Parade continues to divide the opinion of businesses, residents and customers. You may have seen some recent press on this – both in respect to a local petition (please click here to view) and more recently a statement from Warwickshire County Council confirming their position now and in the future.

Warwickshire County Council Statement in the Courier: https://www.warwickcourier.co.uk/news/people/parade-in-leamington-to-remain-temporarily-pedestrianised-to-support-the-safe-reopening-of-the-town-centre-in-april-3166861

In summary, County Council Officers and Local Councillors agreed that the temporary closure will remain in place, to facilitate social distancing and outdoor trading while Covid restrictions, until June 21 at the earliest. After this time, assuming the roadmap does not change, it will be removed.

Officers and Councillors are in agreement that the closure is temporary, and any discussions or options for future changes will be done separately, as there remains a large number of unresolved challenges with the current scheme. This will be developed with stakeholder input and will be widely consulted on.

If you have not completed our survey yet, we would still be grateful for your feedback. You can find it here:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/6HB8P3Q

 

3.  Pavement Licensing – Hospitality Sector

Yesterday we emailed hospitality sector businesses a PDF guide to applying to a licence to trade on the pavement or highway. Please get in touch if you missed this email, or need further support or advice.

Key points are:

  • Placing seating on the pavement or highway requires a licence from Warwick District Council (WDC).
  • In the case of highway applications (e.g. parking spaces, loading bays, vehicle lanes) we recommend you obtain pre-application advice from Warwickshire County Council (WCC) in advance of applying. Once you apply, WDC will consult Warwickshire County Council (WCC) when assessing your application.
  • Applications cost £100. This is non-refundable (even if refused) and there is no legal appeal procedure but WDC will help you as much as they can.
  • Once submitted, the process takes 10 working days.
  • Within this, there is a 5 day public consultation period, where you have to advertise your application on your window.
  • To have outdoor seating approved by April 12th, and accounting for public holidays, applications should be submitted by March 24th.
  • You require a range of supporting plans and insurance documents.
  • BID Leamington is happy to support you.

Key Links and Contacts are:

 

4.  Next Steps, Projects, Getting Involved

BID Projects – Easter, Food Festival, Opening Support:

As mentioned in our last update, we are tentatively preparing for a range of promotions and future events.

  • Our Mother’s Day online promotion is currently live and runs until 31st March.
  • Over 50 businesses have signed up to the Town Centre Easter Egg Hunt and the list is now finalised. This will be delivered via egg shaped window vinyls for those that signed up, and also online. There will be two town centre trails based around a hunt for the golden egg.
  • We are tentatively beginning preparations for the Food & Drink Festival. If permitted, it will be 11th and 12th September, 2021. If you are interested in attending, please make contact with us by the 10th of April. Please email: alison@bidleamington.com.  
  • Finally, please get in touch if you need any fresh social distancing stickers or posters.


Other Activities –
WDC Spark 2021 Online Talks:

Recently, I was pleased to deliver a presentation on local ‘placemaking’ and the role the local community can play in supporting renewal, at the Warwick District Council ‘Spark Ignite’ 2021 conference. Many fascinating talks are now available online and cover a variety of topics.


BID Support / Advice
:

In the meantime, please reach out if there is anything we can support you with. Don’t forget you can find a range of support information contained in previous emails and on our website including:

 

Also, the Royal Leamington Spa Town Centre Facebook page, Instagramtwitter and www.loveleamington.com is where we showcase what you are now doing, so please keep us updated on your plans.

Please 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 website: www.bidleamington.com.

Best wishes – please take care and stay in touch.

Best wishes and stay safe,

Steph & Alison

Hospitality: Outdoor Trading Licensing …

Hospitality: Outdoor Trading Licensing …

Hospitality: Outdoor Trading Licensing …

Hi everyone, 

I hope you are well.

You are no doubt aware of the continuing restrictions facing hospitality sector businesses from April 12th until at least May 117th whereby trading is only permitted outdoors.

Alongside this, regulations licencing trading on pavements and highways have been updated and extended.

Specifically, the process for licencing businesses to trade outdoors was transferred from Warwickshire County Council (WCC) to Warwick District Council (WDC) – though WCC remains in charge of highways (parking space, loading bays, lanes etc). 

Then on the 8th March 2021, Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick issued a letter to Local Authorities extending national guidance and making it easier and cheaper for pubs, restaurants and cafes to continue to make al fresco dining a reality with outside seating, tables and street stalls to serve food and drinks.

After reviewing the guidance, consulting WDC we have produced the attached guide. Please email us on info@bidleamington.com to receive a copy. 

This walks through the key steps, links, contacts and some helpful information to consider if you are thinking about applying for a pavement or highway trading licence and obtaining equipment.

Please note, if applying to trade on the highway we recommend you consult the highway authority (Warwickshire County Council (WCC) first. This will mean that any subsequent application to WDC (the licencing authority) will not be stopped in its tracks. We are happy to help and / or be cc’ed into any emails etc.

Key points in the attached presentation are: 

  • Placing seating on the pavement or highway requires a licence from Warwick District Council (WDC). 
  • In the case of highway applications (e.g. parking spaces, loading bays, vehicle lanes) we recommend you obtain pre-application advice from Warwickshire County Council (WCC) in advance of applying. Once you apply, WDC will formally consult WCC when assessing your application.
  • Applications cost £100. This is non-refundable (even if refused) and there is no appeal procedure, but WDC will do what they can to help you.  
  • Once submitted, the process takes 10 working days.
  • Within this, there is a 5 day public consultation period (which you must advertise on your business).
  • To have outdoor seating approved by April 12th, and accounting for public holidays, applications should be submitted by March 24th. 
  • You require a range of supporting plans and insurance documents.
  • BID Leamington is happy to support you where we can – please see within for details.

Key Links and Contacts are:

 

We appreciate this is a lot and it will not be viable for everyone, but we hope it helps. As contained within, this is a developing document, so please keep us updated with your experiences and we will update this information as required. There are also a number of parallel ongoing discussions about the use of certain green spaces and road closures, so we will keep relevant businesses updated.

As always, please drop us an email if you need support and we will do our best to help – and please keep us updated with your opening plans and preparations. 

Best wishes and stay safe,

Steph & Alison