CEO Update from Melissa
During pedestrianised hours (10am-5pm) footfall so far this month is on a par with what we were seeing towards the end of January, which is approx. 85% of where we were during the same period in 2020 (pre-pandemic). The average UK high street is seeing footfall of around 80% of pre-pandemic levels, so we are still performing at an above average level during our core hours.
It’s taking a while for visitor numbers to bounce back from the hit of moving to Plan B restrictions in December. Hopefully people will regain their confidence and energy for going out again very soon. See my article below from this week’s Newbury Business Today urging everyone to work together to take positive actions to support the high street as we finally emerge from the pandemic.
The final draft of the Newbury Masterplan was approved by West Berkshire Council’s Executive last night and the next steps can now be taken to start to transform our local community’s collective vision into a reality.
You can view the Masterplan document and FAQs on West Berkshire Council’s website here. You can also listen in to discussions about the Masterplan at last night’s Executive meeting here (starting at around 38 minutes).
The document is a long but worthwhile read and sets out a delivery plan which includes quick wins, as well as short-, medium-, and long-term changes.
We are named as one of the key delivery partners and will be working closely with West Berkshire Council and other stakeholders to make sure the vision and objectives are achieved over the next 5+ years. It’s so important that the document doesn’t just sit in a folder somewhere and never see the light of day, and I know West Berkshire Council is committed to delivering the town centre improvements the Masterplan promises (funding dependent).
It’s pleasing to see that over 5,000 survey responses were received during the consultation process. There are a lot of people passionate about Newbury and the final Masterplan reflects the wants and needs of the local community. Most agreed that Newbury is a great place to live, work, visit, and do business but that there’s plenty of room for improvement.
We’re excited to hopefully get involved in some of the quick wins this year (ballot result dependent!) including design-led wayfinding and lighting to The Lanes & Yards, an Oxford Street party, a vacant shop strategy, and developing more spill out space for businesses.
We’ll keep you all posted as we start to work in partnership to deliver these projects.
Two weeks down and two more weeks to go! You have until Thursday 24th February at 5pm to read our “Taking Newbury to the Next Level” Business Plan, submit your vote, and have your say in our ballot (any completed ballot papers received after this time will not be counted).
If you haven’t received your ballot paper and wish to use your vote, please get in touch via email@example.com and we can send you details of how to request a replacement paper. Please note that replacements must be requested by no later than Friday 18th February.
As of Wednesday, 114 completed ballot papers had been received by Civica, who are the independent organisation appointed to administer the secret ballot. This represents 22.5% of levy-paying businesses, so there’s still a long way to go yet (we anticipate a turnout of around 45-50% in line with previous Newbury BID ballots).
If you’re still not sure how or why to vote, please watch the 5-minute video below.
Operations Update from Alison
The current emergency road closure on Northbrook Street for the sewer repairs has been extended until 25th February. If you have any queries, please contact West Berkshire Council’s Streetworks Team directly here and please keep us notified. We have raised concerns directly to WBC on behalf of businesses as the road closure has had a negative impact on footfall and trading so we will keep you posted.
FYI– The national Threat Level was downgraded earlier this week from severe to substantial. Please note this for your Risk Assessments etc. and ensure all staff are briefed. Please see attached for guidance on what you should do by clicking here.
ACTION: We are organising an Easter Trail over the Easter holidays as these have proved to be so popular! It will run from Saturday 9th – Sunday 24th April and will be run in-conjunction with local charity Swings & Smiles. I’m looking for up to 10 businesses to get involved and hide an Easter treat within their business (or at the very least just your front window). Ideally you will be open 7 days per week as the aim of the trial is to encourage footfall into your business so that you can engage with them but if this is not possible, then you could just use your window display on the days that your business is closed. Participating families will complete either a paper or online trail sheet so we will also need a venue for the trail sheets to be collected from and dropped off to (this venue must be open 7 days a week). Please contact me ASAP if you are interested in participating as these trails are hugely successful and will bring in lots of footfall directly to your business!
We are organising a 3-day Easter Fest for the town centre from 15th-17th April (Easter weekend) with an Alice & Mad Hatter theme! This will be a family focused event with market stalls and staged entertainment plus meet & greets with characters. There will be 2 free stalls for BID members per day so please let me know ASAP if you are interested in a free stall. If you have any suggestion sor would like to provide a space within your venue for our incredibly popular Meet & Greet sessions with characters, please do get in touch with me
If we are re-elected for another 5 year term, I shall start planning some exciting summer events for you shortly, but please do get in touch if you have any suggestions or ideas for collaboration!
If we are re-elected in our upcoming ballot, we shall undertake a survey with you all in early March to ascertain the most suitable day for this year’s Christmas switch-on event. I have also held initial meetings with the Christmas Lights supplier to start working on a new design scheme for the lights which will be very exciting for the town if we continue on, and I would be interested to have a business representative on my panel for when we get to selection of design choices – please contact me for further information.
Markets & Free Stalls Update
The Artisan Market had a fantastic return last Sunday and will be back again on Sunday 27th February. we have 2 free stalls available for BID members every month for this so please do get in touch to request your free stall ASAP
The Vegan Market is back next weekend on Sunday 20th February and will take place in the Market Place from 10am – 3pm. A big well done to Inn at Home, The Globe and Colline’s Kitchen for successfully requesting the free stall provision from us! The Vegan Market will then be back again on Sunday 15th May
BusinessWatch Crime Reduction Scheme
The next PubWatch meeting will be on Wednesday 2 March at 10am
The next ShopSafe meeting will be on Monday 21st February at 10am so watch this space for further details!
For those on the free cardboard collection scheme, Bri will collect the cardboard next Wednesday 16th February between 9am – 1pm so please leave out before 9am unless otherwise agreed with us.
Marketing Update from Kirsty
January’s Visit Newbury Loves Local Newsletter:
- 56.3% open rate (vs. national average of 19%- 26% – sector dependent).
- 7.1% click-through rate (vs. 2.5% national average).
- 0 unsubscribes and 20 new subscribers in last 30 days.
You can read the latest newsletter here, and don’t forget to hit ‘subscribe‘ in the top left corner!
NEW blog: Valentine‘s Day: Gifts from the heart of Newbury.
Featuring: Willow & Blooms, Inn at Home, Fifi & Moose, Triangle Travel, No.96, Between the Lines, Temptation Gifts, B the Lifestyle Shop, Plum & Grain, Arty Farty, Fraser Hart, M&S, Waterstones, Paperchase, Hotel Chocolat. Your business isn’t listed? Let me know to be featured in an upcoming blog! Please share this across your networks to help raise awareness of Newbury and to raise the profile of these fab local venues!
NEW press release: Newbury Vegan Market returns for 2022 . Please have a read and help support Newbury by sharing on your social networks!
NEW radio interview on BBC Radio Berkshire: Listen to BBC Radio Berkshire’s news bulletins over the next coming days to hear me promoting our local eco and vegan-friendly town centre businesses, our Newbury Town Trail Maps and our upcoming Vegan Market! This coverage was earned off the back of our recent Vegan Market press release, and it’s great that we’re continuing to maintain momentum with such influential press post-Christmas, where we achieved £10,000’s worth of free press and regional coverage.
NEW events online: I have been adding to the Events section of our website and we are asking YOU to let us know of any upcoming events, courses or activities you may be hosting! To allow for significant promotion time, please let me know ASAP (no less than 4-weeks in advance of the event) so I can feature these on our website in good time. These can also be promoted on our Visit Newbury Loves Local Newsletter.
NEW Vegan Market Facebook event page: Please share and join the event here to help raise awareness of the market! We have several digital adverts for the event and promoting Newbury’s vegan offering live which will continue over the next 10 days.
ACTION: We have made it to the finals of Little Ankle Biters magazine’s 2022 Award in the ‘Best Local Family Friendly Event’ category for our summer Family Fun Days! Please vote for us by clicking here.
ACTION: Are you in the health, hair or beauty sector? We contacted you about a series of blogs we are producing to share online, within our Visit Newbury Loves Local monthly newsletter and across our social media. If you did not receive this email, please contact me. Alternatively, I urge you to reply to our original email so we can start to work on this new series ASAP and promote your business!
ACTION: Are you a dog-friendly hospitality business? Please contact me to find out more about our upcoming Town Trail Map!
UPCOMING: Alongside campaigning for our BID Ballot, I will be producing our marketing, PR & comms strategy to cover us until 31st May, including creating the branding and design framework for our Easter events and aligning campaigns. I have social media adverts up and running for January, and have already booked a prime inside front cover position within the Berkshire Primary Times Magazine- Easter edition, looking ahead for Spring! I will soon be allocating marketing spend to our proven successes such as, DISPLAY: Digital Everywhere adverts, and working on our upcoming town trails for which I have a meeting for next week.
Vote YES in our Term 3 Renewal Ballot NOW so that we can continue full steam ahead with the Visit Newbury brand to establish a future-proof marketing, PR and communications strategy for Newbury this summer and beyond!
Business Community Updates & Shout Outs
FREE Corn Exchange Tickets for BID Members!
The Corn Exchange have kindly provided a special offer of 2 free tickets for BID members for The Band presented by Levante’s Dance Theatre on Wednesday 16 February at 7.45pm. Use the code BAND22 to claim 2 free tickets. (This offer is subject to availability and cannot be used retrospectively on tickets already purchased).
Newbury Town Council Update
Newbury Civic Awards 2022 Nominations Open Now!
The Newbury Town Civic Awards have been launched for 2022. Nomination forms are available for collection from Newbury Town Hall, can be completed online or can be printed off from the Newbury Town Council website.
West Berkshire Council Update
Additional Restrictions Grant Challenge Fund
The deadline is fast approaching to submit your application for the ARG Challenge Fund scheme launched by WBC before Christmas. The scheme offers local businesses the opportunity to bid for grant funding to pay for a project that will contribute to the recovery, growth and resilience of the business in an environmentally-friendly way. For more information and to apply before 13th February, click here.
Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant open for applications
Mental Health Support
Here are links to the latest updates from the Government:
- UK’s new travel rules take flight – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- National flu and COVID-19 surveillance reports published – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Businesses urged to apply for £850 million still available in COVID-19 support grants – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- PM statement at NATO press conference: 10 February 2022 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- 2022 Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers ranking open for entries – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- National Apprenticeship Week 2022 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Readout of the first meeting of the Prime Minister’s new Business Council: 8 February 2021 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Businesses encouraged to have their say on future of customs – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- HMRC late payment interest rates to be revised after Bank of England increases base rate – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- £50 million of Government investment announced for creative businesses across the UK – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Events, Resources & Industry News
Business support during the COVID-19 crisis is available from the following organisations:
- West Berkshire Council – COVID-19 information for businesses – https://info.westberks.gov.uk/coronavirus-business
- Public Protection Partnership – advice and support on COVID guidelines and regulations – https://publicprotectionpartnership.org.uk/covid-19/
- Business Growth Hub – free COVID advice and support for businesses in Berkshire – https://www.berkshirebusinesshub.co.uk/
- Government – summary of COVID support available for businesses – https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support