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

BID Update: Grants, Business Booster & Merry Christmas

BID Update: Grants, Business Booster & Merry Christmas

Morning everyone,

We hope you are all well. It has been a little while since our October newsletter (please view here) and we know some of you are very busy – while others will be once again digesting government advice relating to increasing Covid cases.

We want to keep this brief – but also reassure you of the support that is available as we go forwards. There is also a lot of behind-the-scenes work and lobbying going on, to ensure you and businesses around the Country are adequately supported as the situation changes.

Accordingly, this email contains the most up-to-date advice we have right now, but it will likely change, so please watch out for our emails and follow the social media and website pages listed at the bottom of the page as we will also post updates there.

This update covers the following:

  1. Business Booster – Lobbying for Support (Again)
  2. Grants – Yesterday’s Announcement – Websites to Bookmark
  3. Christmas Update & New Year Planning
  4. Looking Forwards, BID Support – Please Stay in Touch …

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1. Business Booster Campaign – Lobbying for Support (Again).

Very quickly, we felt that you should know we have been working with other BIDs around England, to lobby for additional business support following the Plan B announcement two weeks ago.

We know that this impacted hospitality particularly, but our ‘asks’ apply to retail, leisure and hospitality sector businesses. The letter that was sent to the Chancellor on the 19th of December can be viewed here (please click here) – and a jpeg image of the ‘asks’ is below for your information.

In summary, this included:

  • BUSINESS RATES RELIEF:  provide businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with 100% Business Rate Relief for up to and including 31st March 2022 [no cap]. After which we call on the Government to support the recovery by providing businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a 50% Business Rate Relief from 1st April 2022 to 30th June 2022 [no cap].
  • VAT EXTENSION: extend the current VAT reduction for the hospitality sector of 12.5% through to 31st March 2023 to allow for recovery.
  • GRANTS: introduce grants up to £15,000 by rateable value to businesses within the hospitality, retail and leisure sector in light of a difficult festive trading period, uncertain outlook and the impending rent quarter date of 25th December 2021.

As set out below, while today’s announcement is welcome – as you can see above and below, our industry colleagues feel the government will need to go further so will continue to engage with MPs and decision makers. Please let us know if you would like to support this work (on social media, with case study information etc).

 

2. Grants – Yesterday’s Announcement – Website to Bookmark

Yesterday’s announcement from the Chancellor of a £1bn fund for the hospitality sector and an extra £30m to help theatres and museums shows that he is listening to business concerns. In summary it includes:

  • Grants for hospitality and leisure businesses in England, worth up to £6,000 per premise. These will be administered through local authorities.
  • The resumption of the statutory sick pay rebate scheme, which will reimburse employers in the UK with fewer than 250 workers for the cost of paying statutory sick pay for Covid-related absences for up to two weeks.
  • £30 million further funding enabling more cultural organisations in England to apply for support during the winter (via the Culture Recovery Fund).

 

Grant Availability

Grants for Leamington hospitality and leisure businesses will once again be administered by Warwick District Council (WDC).

We were in contact with WDC in anticipation last week and again yesterday – to ensure that teams are being mobilised to deploy information and grants as swiftly as possible. We are not yet sure if there will be an application process, but we know it is urgently needed and we will keep businesses updated via this email and our social media pages (at the bottom of this email).

In addition, the WDC website has been updated with a holding statement – so please bookmark these pages:

 

Next Steps & Further Lobbying (For those who feel this falls short and those missed out)

On balance, the response to this has been mixed. It overlooks a number of sectors who have also been hit hard recently including hair and beauty, travel and others who have also seen cancellations. As set out above our asks cover all sectors, so this remains our focus. We are also conscious that the offer of ‘up to’ £6000 for hospitality and leisure will do little to cover recent losses. Below is a statement from Matt Sims who founded the ‘Business Booster’ Campaign:

“This isn’t the bailout businesses across the UK need and have been waiting for since Plan B was announced over two weeks ago. A £1bn package of support sounds impressive, but is a headline that distracts from the true reality that these are token measures and in no way reflect the reality that hospitality businesses are facing.”

“A £6,000 grant in no way compensates for the dramatic loss in trading hospitality businesses in particular are facing, and more important they can’t wait weeks for financial aid.”

“With speculation mounting of further restrictions, we need the Government to ensure any announcement is accompanied with a revised raft of financial support and measures to ensure hospitality, retail and leisure businesses get the support they need to mitigate closure and redundancies.”

So for now please stay in touch. As always we welcome your feedback and ‘on the ground experience’. We know that business circumstances vary widely and are available to help in a variety of areas, including signposting Health & Wellbeing, HR, financial and legal support.

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3.  Christmas Update & New Year Planning

Taking account of recent uncertainty we wanted to reflect on the last month and signpost some options for the new year. Whilst we know footfall does not tell the whole story, our footfall cameras on Parade show that our recovery has been strong. Since September we have consistently reached 2019 levels – which bodes well for our ability to bounce back whatever comes our way in future. By percentage, our ‘footfall to date’ is above the midlands and national average.

(Click to view footfall graph)

We feel that we have a wonderful, local, connected local community that contributes to this resilience. Love Leamington #LoveLeam and the shop local message is valued and we know many people have enjoyed our Lantern Parade, Christmas Goody Bags (x250 on Small Business Saturday), Santa’s Post Box (over 700 letters to date), Elf Workshop and other partnerships (such as with Atmap) and activities.

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4.  Looking Forwards, BID Support – Please Stay in Touch  

Throughout December we continued to showcase your businesses and products on our websites and social media platforms and this will continue into the New Year. 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.

The Royal Leamington Spa Town Centre Facebook page, Instagramtwitter 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 website here.

We are optimistic that once we get over this next hurdle, 2022 is going to be fantastic. We are looking forward to the Queens Jubilee, the Commonwealth Games and lots more which we will update you on in due course.

In the meantime, we wish you and your teams a very safe and Merry Christmas and look forward to seeing you in the New Year.

Very best wishes – please take care and stay in touch.

Steph, Alison and Gary

New Mask Regulations & Local Covid Update

New Mask Regulations & Local Covid Update

As a result of a new Covid variant that has been identified, at 4am today UK government introduced new rules requiring face masks to be worn in shops, banks, post offices, hairdressers etc (but not hospitality venues). Information about this can be found by clicking here.

To support your communications, we have created some Christmas-themed social media images that you are welcome to save and use. We have a series of ‘square images’ perfect for Instagram and Facebook – and they can be used in ‘twos’ with the final ‘Love Leam’ image.
We also have ‘rectangle’ images perfect for Twitter or Facebook. Finally, we have some ‘we’re masking nicely’ and ‘endgame’ images and posters available offering an additional dash of creativity and kindness. Some examples are provided below.
These can all be downloaded from our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/BIDLeamington. Please get in touch if you can not access these and we can email them to you.

We also have posters that you can display in your business, so please get in touch with us at info@bidleamington.com if you would like one of these.

 

So how are we doing locally? … 

Since restrictions were lifted in July we have been closely monitoring local Covid rates. At that time (23rd July) local cases were 585.7 cases per 100,000 people which was comparatively quite high. Since then numbers have fluctuated as follows:

  • July 23rd – 585.7 cases per 100,000 people
  • August 20th – 283.6 per cases per 100,000 people
  • September 24th – 311.2 cases per 100,000 people
  • October 22nd – 624.5 cases per 100,000 people
  • November 19th – 319.5 cases per 100,000 cases people
  • November 26th – 384.4 cases per 100,000 people

These figures are drawn from regular updates we receive from Warwick Drictick Council and can be verified here: https://www.warwickdc.gov.uk/news/archive.

Alongside this, the Local Authority and other organizations have been proactive in encouraging people to get vaccinated and offering associated services. Thanks to the great work of our local health service providers and volunteers several walk-in clinics are available. For example, we can now ‘grab a jab’ this weekend at:

  • Warwick – Northgate House
    Saturday 27 & Sunday 28 November, 10am-4pm
  • Kenilworth – Former Ramada Hotel
    Sunday 28 November, 10am-2pm
Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you need any information or advice. As well as up-to-date Covid information we are closely monitoring footfall and our door is always open. Please also stay in touch so you can get involved in our upcoming Christmas promotions.
Best wishes over the coming weeks,
Steph, Alison & Gary
From Leamington, With Love

From Leamington, With Love

Why we are refocussing on our online communities and why that matters.

 

Reflecting on how the past year has changed the town centre, our community and our role supporting it, we are currently undertaking a review of the town’s ‘Royal Leamington Spa’ and ‘Love Leamington’ brands, and that includes how we create a dialogue with locals and visitors through our social media.

Among other things, the pandemic highlighted the huge amount of LOVE people have for businesses in our town centre. We have also seen the ‘Love Leamington’ brand, the LoveLeam hashtag and www.loveleamington.com take centre stage, and recognise the huge role that digital marketing now plays in supporting local prosperity.

Over the past 10 years we have amassed over 25,000 followers across our channels and, being early adopters of social media some of our older names and accounts such as @LeamingtonGuide on Twitter now feel confusing, while others were created to serve a need that has now shifted. Reflecting the need to consolidate some platforms, and expand into other newer more relevant channels, we are taking our social media followers on a journey. 

And we hope you will join us …

Going forward, ‘Love Leamington’ will become a constant across the town centres’ digital universe. ‘Love’ reflects the wonderful shift towards supporting our local businesses… and the location of those we support – the literal the ‘heart’ of the town.

Importantly, ‘Royal Leamington Spa’ will form a key element in our searchable bios across all our platforms. We will also be aligning our content around our audience needs, and four strategic pillars of: ‘community’, ‘the senses’, ‘service’ and ‘trust’. 

So, look out for these changes, and give us a thumbs up, like or a heart to let us know you’re on board:

@LeamingtonGuide on Twitter will now become @LoveLeamington.

@leamington_town_centre on Instagram will also become @LoveLeamington. This is the most significant change – as we invite you to move.

and we will remain @RoyalLeamingtonSpaTownCentre on Facebook.

Various events (such as the Food Festival) and Facebook pages and groups (such as BID Leamington) will continue as before, and we also have some new platforms coming online soon.

Please continue to tag your posts #LoveLeam so we can find and share your content too. Where relevant, you can also use #TasteLeam and #LeamFoodFest.

Together these changes will help us to deliver more meaningful communications to you and foster even more loyalty, trust and support.

Please stay tuned for further blogs with more detail on our emerging strategy to support town centre businesses, attract investment, keep our community connected, celebrate positive experiences, and continue to ensure our town centre is a community with a real heart.

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