Our Annual Report, Invoicing & The Next Steps
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:
- Leamington Society website (the online recordings are at the bottom of the page): Talks 2021 – The Leamington Society
- Re-vision 2021: Supporting Positive Change in Leamington – YouTube
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.
- Our ‘Spark 2021’ talk can be viewed here: Placemaking: Lifting the Lid in Places – YouTube
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):
- HSTF Background: Case study: Social distancing with flowers in Leamington | Resources | High Street Task Force (highstreetstaskforce.org.uk)
- Talk – Floral Social Distancing in Leamington: Social distancing with flowers in Leamington – YouTube
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 email@example.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