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

 

 

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.

Moving into Tier 3 Requires More Support

Moving into Tier 3 Requires More Support

Moving into Tier 3 Requires More Support

BID Leamington is backing calls for urgent government support for hospitality and leisure sector businesses as those in the town centre reel from the shock of being put in the highest level of Coronavirus restrictions.

The business-led organisation for the town centre says these sectors will be the hardest hit by the new regional Tier 3 restriction which comes into force after the national lockdown is lifted.

And it says greater government support is needed to ensure those facing restrictions can stand the best chance of surviving the pre-Christmas clampdown in their busiest month of trading.

Stephanie Kerr, executive director of BID Leamington, said there was surprise and disappointment among the town centre business community at Leamington being placed in Tier 3 restrictions with the rest of Coventry and Warwickshire.

She said: “With Leamington having been in the lowest regional tier prior to the latest national lockdown, many were surprised to be moved to be moved into the highest Tier.

“We are pleased that retail has been given a real lifeline in being able to open and we continue to urge people to shop local, but businesses in the hospitality and leisure sector will be hardest hit and face the burden of significant financial losses at their most important time of year.

“Some had stocked up in anticipation of being able to open their doors fully after December 2 but will now have to remain closed until at least December 16 when the tier system is due to be reviewed.

“Existing grant support falls significantly short of covering ongoing business expenses, so there is a very real danger of hospitality businesses falling by the wayside unless the government steps in quickly with additional support to ensure they can remain viable.”

UKHospitality has already warned that the new Tier 3 system will result in 94 per cent of hospitality businesses becoming unviable by March 2021. In Tier 2 it is 75 per cent and in Tier 1 it is 25 per cent.

Whist recognising funding challenges, BID Leamington is backing a nationwide call for special support measures for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses facing the toughest restrictions.

The ‘Bounce Back Better’ campaign is asking for a one-off grant of £15,000 for those businesses in Tier 2 and 3 with a rateable value of up to £150,000, and a pause on National Insurance and employer contributions for furloughed employees.

It is also seeking an extension of the 100 per cent business rates holiday and the VAT reduction scheme.

Town centre businesses in need of information and support can make contact with the BID team at info@bidleamington.com or go to www.bidleamington.com. To find out how to support businesses by shopping local, visit www.loveleamington.com and follow @LeamingtonGuide. To find out about ‘Bounce Back Better’ please visit www.raisethebarcampaign.com.

Business Support, Well-being & Grants: 21st August

Business Support, Well-being & Grants: 21st August

Business Support, Well-being & Grants: 21st August

Hi everyone,

We hope you are well and navigating the ups and downs over the last week OK. We understand there are mixed feelings and that our members are looking for different forms of support. For those who receive our emails, you will have seen that various grants have been offered by both the Coventry & Warwickshire Growth Hub and Warwickshire County Council. In addition to this, we have emailed you about other support and training from these organisations as well as the Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce. Below is a brief summary of what is available and the points of contact. Please note this is ever-evolving so do not hesitate to get in touch for recent updates.

Business Grants

There have been two business grants on offer and the deadline for these has now passed. However, businesses may not have heard back yet or could be looking for further information. The relevant contacts are as follows:

 

Business Support & Training

1.  Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce: FREE Digital Training 

The Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Stories Marketing and the Towns Network, is offering a free digital training programme open to all Warwickshire retailers to help you reach and connect with current and new customers through online and social media tools. Covid-19 has shown that now customers are online more than ever before and it’s imperative for you to learn how to embrace digital to grow your business. Training open to all bricks and mortar retailers and hospitality businesses in Warwickshire.

Please click here for more information and to sign up for digital training via Eventbrite

The Chamber of Commerce also has a lot of other useful business support available – please click here for details.

 

2.  Warwickshire County Council – Survive, Sustain, Grow:

The ‘Survive, Sustain and Grow’ programme will provide an enhanced business consultancy service to assist businesses with their post Covid-19 recovery plans. The program is open to all micro and small enterprises based in Warwickshire and will offer a tailored Covid-19 recovery support package through its network of specialist consultants. They will assist in developing and delivering a robust business framework that will identify key stages, challenges, opportunities and potential access to grant funding the businesses should consider as they progress towards succeeding post Covid-19. All support will be provided free of charge and will look to engage with companies in all business sectors but with a focus on Retail, Hospitality, Tourism & Leisure.

Please click here for more information and to find the contact form

 

3.  Coventry & Warwickshire Growth Hub:

The team at the Growth Hub offer various forms of support ranging from employment advice on loans. Please click here for more information.

 

Business Owner and Staff Health & Well-being

Warwickshire County Council has extended its Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) to support owners and staff in town centre micro and small businesses with their health and wellbeing.

The programme will be available from Tuesday, September 1 to businesses with 10 or fewer employees operating in the towns of Warwickshire who may need help.

This includes access to information, support and guidance (including coaching and counselling where appropriate) on a wide range of topics including work, career, relationships, family, money management, debt and health and wellbeing.

Please get in touch with us on info@bidleamington.com or email business@warwickshire.gov.uk if you would like to learn more about this. All enquiries are confidential.

 

And finally …

In addition to this please don’t forget we are here to help and would be very grateful to get your feedback which will help shape future support on offer. You can also join our Leamington Town Centre Facebook Group if you haven’t already. We also post updates on the BID Leamington Facebook page – and the Royal Leamington Spa Town Centre Facebook page is where we showcase what you are now doing.

Best wishes and we look forward to seeing you out and about,

Steph & Alison

 

Our Annual Report, Invoicing & The Path Forwards

Our Annual Report, Invoicing & The Path Forwards

Our Annual Report, Invoicing & The Path Forwards

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 2019-2020 Annual Report which can be read online by clicking here. This report draws to an end the second of BID Leamington’s five-year term (2018-2023) and whilst we face immediate 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 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 since March has revealed the strain that many businesses are under and the varying circumstances that many face. At this time, some have been able to trade through the crisis, whilst others remain closed, with no opening date in sight.

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 set out 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 then transformation.

 

Our Recovery 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.

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.

 

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 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, 2020. 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 2019-2020, the value of your BID is more important than ever. Building on our excellent track record of delivery, many of you have experienced how valuable our work has been since March. 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.

Leamington Spa is among 101 towns who have been identified as part of the Future High Street Fund (announced in August 2019). This funding is aimed at addressing the most pressing structural challenges in our town centre and supporting future transformation. The work builds on our existing town vision and will be adapted to meet emerging needs and embrace local creativity and innovation. We are also looking forward to hosting the Commonwealth Games Bowls in 2022 just minutes from the town centre. 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

 

 

Lets Raise The Bar

Lets Raise The Bar

Raise The Bar

This post relates to the campaign to extend the £25,000 grant scheme. It is directed to our members who are in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector and whose business has a rateable value between £51,001 and £150,000, as listed by the VOA on the GOV.UK website.

We are aware that due to the rateable value, your property was NOT eligible to receive grant funding as a part of the governments COVID-19 Retail and Leisure Hospitality Grant Scheme.

This exclusion has negatively impacted businesses in some towns / parts of the country more than others. In the Leamington Town Centre BID Area it means 109 businesses miss out on grant funding, that we know will make a big difference in supporting you, your staff and your business through this trying period. In London, this affects around 19,000 businesses. Feedback from those who have received grants suggest it has offered a lifeline, enabling them to pay suppliers, manage stock-loss, pay rent and overheard costs, support adaption and in some cases, survive.

I have been working with industry organisations and other BIDs to put together a campaign to address this gap. This is called ‘Raise the Bar’. A letter headed by Croydon BID which I also contributed to, has been sent to Rt. Hon. Alok Sharma MP who is the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. This can be read by clicking here.

The website is here: https://raisethebarcampaign.com. In the last week there has been a fantastic uptake in national press and a question was raised at the Government’s daily briefing with Matt Hancock MP about this yesterday.

How can you help?

We have a government petition which has now been signed by nearly 15,000 people, which you can sign by clicking here. Please share with #RaiseTheBar.

We are looking for business case studies … that is, businesses who would be willing to provide further details about the impact of COVID-19, your current position and how getting a £25,000 grant would help you. Please note, that case study information will be shared with the press, and you may be contacted. Of course, we will support you with this also. Please let me know if this interests you…

It is worth noting that the business support that has been provided to date is hard won. BIDs, membership organisations and industry bodies all over the country are lobbying for their members, and it is important that we express an honest picture of your current circumstances. Also, we are well aware that there are many other ‘asks’ of government at the moment, and that further support will be needed going forwards too. For now, ‘Raise the Bar’ is a deliverable ‘ask’ and would make an immediate impact.

If you would like further information or an informal chat about this, please reply by email (stephanie@bidleamington.com) and I will be in touch.

Best wishes, stay safe and keep in touch.