Welcome to your fortnightly update from the Newbury BID team, including the latest news from the business community, Newbury Town Council, West Berkshire Council, Thames Valley Police, and the Government. Look out for actions highlighted below!
CEO Update from Melissa
Overall in 2021, footfall in Newbury was up 6.7% against Springboard’s national benchmark, and up 3% against the regional benchmark, so we outperformed the average town or city. The month with the highest average weekly footfall was November, the best performing day was consistently a Saturday, and the busiest time was generally 12 noon throughout the week and at the weekend.
2022 has started slowly, with visitor levels down 22% on the same period in 2020. Again, this is better than the average UK high street though, where footfall is down 31% compared to the same period.
The final graph for 2021 showing footfall performance against 2020 and 2019 is below.
Since I started this role 18 months ago, there have been lots of false starts and set backs in our recovery, with lockdowns and restrictions being phased in and out. However, I feel positive about the outlook moving forward. I know right now there are still many challenges for businesses, not least with staffing and low levels of footfall, and these won’t dissipate immediately. I’m hopeful though that, for those of you whose businesses have been in survival move for so long now, the pressure will ease this year and some peace of mind will start to return.
Until 31st May 2022
We will be delivering three projects with this WBF funding prior to the end of March – an innovative visitor engagement platform called “Hello Lamp Post”, planters to brighten up the town centre, and Visit Newbury branded gazebos to use as (1) a pop-up visitor information stall, and (2) a stall for businesses to pop-up and test their products/services in the town centre.
With the levy funding, we will continue to deliver the key projects outlined in the current Business Plan, with our main focus on marketing, events and specialised markets, Newbury Town Trails, BusinessWatch, and cardboard collection. We will also be developing our commercial strategy and looking at ways to hone Newbury’s brand and profile to help attract inward investment.
We are planning to host quarterly “Talk of the Town” events, with the first one in March (and subsequent ones ballot-result dependent!). These events will each have a clear focus with the aim of helping businesses to improve and grow.
From 1st June 2022
- We will start to deliver the projects outlined in our new 5-year Business Plan, which has been published online this week; or
- we will no longer exist as an organisation, the BID team will move on to pastures new, the Visit Newbury brand will cease, and no other organisation will fund or manage the projects we deliver.
We of course hope that the majority of levy-paying businesses “Vote YES” to continuing to fund the BID for a further 5 years so that we can deliver the projects outlined in the plan. Our team are committed to making a difference to Newbury and our business community, and we’ve put our hearts and souls into our work since coming together as a team last year. We would absolutely love to continue working with you all from June onwards.
Operations Update from Alison
I’m super excited to confirm that following the appointment of our new CCTV supplier Scion for the town centre, the installation has been completed and the new CCTV is up and running and it looks fantastic! The BID agreed back in 2017 to take up on the management of the CCTV because the cameras at that time were redundant and not being managed by anyone but only on the understanding that it would be cost neutral for the businesses and funding would be provided by Thames Valley Police and Newbury Town Council. The system we inherited at the time was out of date so since joining the BID last year, I have worked hard to improve the system. By transferring over to a Wi-Fi based system, we have not only got a fit for purpose system finally but have also made significant cost reductions so have been able to secure funding for the CCTV contract for the next 3 years which is amazing news for the town centre!
I’m starting to collate ideas and suggestions for events and activities for this year (on the basis that we will get re-elected and be here post June 2022 otherwise there will sadly be no more events organised or driven by anyone!) so please get in touch with any ideas, suggestions or collaborative partnership incentives!
I’m planning an Easter Fest for the town centre from 15-17 April (Easter weekend) so please get in touch with me to discuss how you can get involved!
Don’t forget this year it’s the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and we have a long 4-day Bank Holiday weekend from Thursday 2 – Sunday 5 June! I shall be meeting with the Town Council next week to discuss their plans and see how we can hopefully get some of you involved in this historic celebration!
If we get re-elected by you, I shall undertake a survey with all BID members (following the Ballot result at end of February) to ascertain which day of the week suits you best for the annual Christmas Light Switch-On and intend to develop it further this year into an even more exciting fun packed Festival!
Don’t forget to let us know if you have any events or activities planned for this year so we can add you to our events calendar!
Markets & Free Stalls Update
The monthly Artisan Market is back this month after a Christmas break will back on Sunday 30th January and Sunday 27th February – we have 2 free stalls at each market so if you are interested, please let me know ASAP!
Following its success on Sunday 21st November, the Vegan Market will be back on Sunday 20th February, and I have 2 free stalls so let me know if you are interested.
For those on the free cardboard collection scheme, Bri will collect the cardboard next Wednesday 19th January between 9am – 2pm so please leave out before 9am.
BusinessWatch Crime Reduction Scheme
We held our monthly Pubwatch meeting this week on 12 January. The next PubWatch meeting will be on Wednesday 2 March at 10am
The next ShopSafe meeting will be on Thursday 10 February so watch this space for further details!
The Christmas Lights are currently being taking down so look out for our supplier in his cherry picker! The Christmas Tree will be removed this Monday 17 January. If we get re-elected, I shall issue a tender for a brand new lighting design for this year which will be very exciting for the town. If we don’t get voted back in, I’m not sure if there will be any Christmas Lights for the town going forward…
Marketing Update from Kirsty
This week I have been busy writing content and designing new collateral for upcoming consumer-facing campaigns and our BID ballot. We will shortly be advertising in the Berkshire Kingfisher Guide, a quality guide distributed across most hotels and overnight accommodation in the county (you can see last year’s guide here). I’ve been working on a double page spread advert for this, breaking down reasons to ‘Visit Newbury’ into six categories: Discover, Shop, Explore, Indulge, Enjoy, and Stay. We hope the advert will help to promote Newbury to visitors across the county and encourage them to come and visit us! I look forward to sharing the finished product with you shortly!
Have you read our recent press release? “NEW Town Centre CCTV for Newbury” – Newbury BID. Please read this and help to spread the positivity around Newbury by sharing on your social networks! I have also produced a BID Ballot announcement press release which I will share with press next week.
After a quick re-jig, our updated Vegan Map as part of our Newbury Town Trails is now available as a downloadable PDF on relevant sections of our website: Food & Drink , Shopping and Attractions. You can view the map digitally here and can also find a digital version of our Blue Plaque and Public Art Map by clicking here, or by visiting our Attractions page. I’ve arranged a meeting with Newbury Town Council week commencing 24th January to discuss the next phase of the project.
ACTION: If you’re keen for your business to feature on any of our Town Trail maps or have any suggestions, please get in touch!
ACTION: Is your business offering something for Veganuary/GINuary or DRY-January? Please get in touch! I’m just pulling the final pieces together for an upcoming blog post sharing the best vegan and veggie eateries in Newbury, to make sure you’re included, please email me! The next blog will have a retail focus and will be shared online, on our monthly Visit Newbury Loves Local newsletter, and social media. The more feedback and info we get through from you, the more blogs I can write and the more we can share and promote your good news stories!
ACTION: Are you in the health, hair or beauty sector? We recently contacted you about a series of blogs we are wanting to produce 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 start to work on this new series ASAP and promote your business!
We’ve revamped the BID Ballot webpage on our website! If you haven’t already seen it please click here to view. I have sourced our BID Map for the Business Plan, finalised our ‘vote YES’ graphics and updated with more quotes as they’ve come through from our YES voters. Thank you to all of you who are supporting us!
ACTION: If you’re interested in supporting us through providing a testimonial quote or 30-second (max) video, please get in touch with me. Click here to see our new Term 3 BID Supporter webpage. I have also been working on getting the Business Plan print-ready for the printers and uploading into our new publishing software online. I also created our a BID Ballot infographic which will be making it’s way to you all very soon as we begin our vote YES campaign.
Projects Update from Bri
Over the past couple of weeks I have been able to get stuck into a multitude of projects that are going on here at the BID.
One of my key focuses is working alongside Alison on revamping our BusinessWatch schemes. This includes a host of different targets – not least of those being updating our DISC system so that it is running in such a way that we can maximise the benefits for the business who use it. This week we re-introduced the weekly newsletters which will be sent out to relevant parties every Wednesday. These newsletters will include details of any new subjects as well as alerts or updates from Thames Valley Police. We urge those who receive them to give them a good read!
This week we hosted the first PubWatch of the year, with most pubs reporting a very well behaved Christmas and New Year period. We’re aiming to re-introduce ShopSafe meetings in early February – dates to be confirmed shortly.
I’ve also been working with Kirsty on liaising with businesses from various sectors in order to find ways of promoting them this January. We’ve asked businesses to get in touch with any Veganuary, Dryanuary, Tryanuary (or any other “anuary”) that they’d like to promote via our Visit Newbury page.
Cardboard collection began again on Wednesday 5th January. I have been in contact with various businesses regarding their collection and any issues they may have arisen.
Business Community Updates & Shout Outs
Are you planning on voting ‘YES!’ to a further BID term? If so and you would be happy to provide a quote in favour for the BID remaining in situ for 2022-2027, please get in touch with us!
Newbury Town Council Update
Newbury Town Council announce 14th Blue Plaque
Newbury Town Council is pleased to announce the unveiling of its 14th blue plaque, to Esther Jane Luker (1872-1969), who served as the first headmistress of Newbury Girls’ School from 1904 to 1933. You can read the full press release here.
Newbury Town Council January Newsletter
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, click here.
Health and Wellbeing Board Annual Conference - The Next 10 Years - 21 January 2022 – 10am to 12.30
The annual Health and Wellbeing Board Conference is back and everyone is invited to take part. Once again, this will be a virtual conference via Zoom and is open to anyone in West Berkshire who has an interest in health and wellbeing. Book your Conference place here or paste https://tinyurl.com/HWB-conference-2022 into your browser.
Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant open for applications
Mental Health Support
Coronavirus Face Covering Posters for Businesses
We have received the following government poster through from WBC. If you would like a digital copy of this to print for your store or to upload to your website, please click here. Do also let us know if you would like physical copies and we will do what we can to arrange these for you with WBC. We expect new assets in line with the new Plan B guidance to be sent through shortly.
Here are links to the latest updates from the Government:
- Oral statement on the government’s COVID-19 response – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- National flu and COVID-19 surveillance reports published – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Self-isolation for those with COVID-19 can end after 5 full days following 2 negative LFD tests – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Prime Minister to chair new council with devolved governments – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- HMRC responses to inaccurate claims – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- SIA offers grants for good causes using cash confiscated from criminals – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Government to pause rollout of all lane running motorways – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- People with a positive lateral flow test no longer required to take confirmatory PCR test – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Making Tax Digital for VAT is coming – are you ready? – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Businesses most impacted by Omicron variant to benefit from over £700 million as government delivers funding to local authorities – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- HMRC gives Self Assessment taxpayers more time to ease COVID-19 pressures – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Full list of places aiming to become Jubilee cities revealed – 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