How to develop a participative Bude Area business representative organisation
The Bude Business Voice (BBV) project initially recruited nineteen businesses to form a focus group, reflecting a good cross section of local business type and size. The primary objective of the group and the project has been to consider the options for establishing a business representative and supporting approach for the Bude area, similar to that deployed in other towns in Cornwall and across the country; one that can influence, support and deliver local change; and support individual or groups of Bude area businesses in what they do.
In February 2021 BBV hosted three focus group meetings and heard presentations from a selection of the focus group businesses, illustrating the range and diversity of business activity in the Bude area; the group also heard from three towns – St Ives, Newquay and Minehead on support for business in their towns, through the establishment of Business Improvement District and how they are contributing to the wider town and community, and then a series of business support presentations and input from MP Scott Mann, from the Local Enterprise Partnership and from Transition Bude.
Alongside this activity the project has provided a series of supporting blogs via the BBV website and built and posted regularly to a Facebook, Instagram, Linked In following of over 250; and, to demonstrate the breadth of the Bude economy by focusing on a specific sector, built and serviced a Bude Creatives Facebook Live page with over 100 participants.
Following the focus group discussions and subsequent one to one discussion, an outline initial plan for a Business Improvement District (BID) that is sustainable, provides local business support and representation for the Bude area was agreed at a further Focus Group in April.
A list of the focus group participants is provided at the end of this document.
The Bude and Area BID – an initial outline
1.1 The geography of many Cornwall and UK BIDs is tightly focused – often on a town centre or a large business park. In Bude a BID based on the town centre would not raise sufficient income for impact; and, anyway, a core objective of the BBV project is to be inclusive of all types of business and to cover the whole of the Bude Economic area (defined as Cornwall Council Community Network Area).
1.2 Indicatively, within this geography, and if all business rate payers with properties having a rateable value of £5,000 and above are included at an annual payment of 1.5% of rateable value, a BID income of £168,000 per annum could be achieved and include approximately 400 properties or pieces of built infrastructure such as car parks or the sewage works.
1.3 From this basic position there are then multiple ways to cut geography and the rateable value threshold. Furthermore, the BID proposing group can include specific income approaches distinctive to their particular need. For example we could:
- in the same geography raise the rateable value threshold to £12,000. Maintaining the 1.5% annual levy, this would produce £138,000 per annum but reduce the total number of contributors to 165.
- or, perhaps, cap the individual contributions (if that was at £3,000, for example, it would take £40,000 off the income in 1.2 above), but encourage businesses that do not pay business rates, or are below the rateable value threshold to contribute. For e.g., through an annual membership – to be part of a movement for change, but also perhaps to receive a defined level of service / benefit as part of the BID delivery.
2.1 The BID would advocate its businesses, provide a medium to raise awareness of what individual businesses do amongst other Bude area businesses – provide networking and a ‘knowledge exchange’ facilitation between businesses that are part of the BID
2.2 And then, five initial outline themes, following focus group and individual business discussion, that the BID could deliver within for its levy payers and other contributors:
- Skills & Inclusion: Working with appropriate organisations such as Budehaven School, co-ordinate the business community to provide ways to encourage additional skills and vocational training, working for young people and increased inclusion; developing new skills in the Bude area, retaining them here and helping to stimulate, sustain and grow local businesses; and perhaps attract new businesses. Strengthening the level of local skills for example in tourism, engineering, creative, legal and medical. And within this raising awareness of Bude area businesses and what they do, the opportunities for employment / career that they offer
- Events and Attraction: Alongside the infrastructure and other investments that are part of the Bude Town Team proposals, establish and run a series of events in Bude and at least one in the wider Bude area – the events are run and funded for a minimum of five years (the first BID term) – and are about distinctively Bude themes e.g. sustainability, food, music, Creative Bude… Not duplicating what already happens and adding value to town, resident and visitor offer.
- Connectivity and Communications: Alongside Town Council and Cornwall Council explore opportunities to enhance digital and sustainable transport connectivity. Support the development of appropriate facilities to enable Bude area businesses to engage with the world in a sustainable way; work with the Town Team initiative and with newly emerging private sector provision, and in the wider Bude area to establish, support and advocate ‘nodes’ of good quality communication and presentation facilities (e.g. the developing Bay View Inn offer at Widemouth).
- Championing and Lobbying: Use the funds raised by the BID as a demonstration of Bude area commitment and working with Cornwall Councillors, the Town Council and others champion the Bude area ‘at County Hall’ helping to advocate for further investment; and pursue other funding opportunities to add to the BID’s capability to deliver value for its levy paying contributors.
- Distinctive Bude: Work with the Town Council, the TIC and others such as Transition Bude and the Bude Climate Partnership to develop a business supported distinctive Bude presentation – ‘A UK leading environmentally focused, sustainable small town by…’; utilise some of the BID income to promote the Bude area and all that it has to offer, to resident, business and visitor
2.3 Potential measures of impact in a first five-year BID term:
- individuals and improved skills
- increased footfall through event activity
- a rural digital connectivity showcase based on the Bude area
- funding leveraged by the BID funds
- local and national media coverage of Distinctive Bude.
The BID must align with other activity – Town Council, Cornwall Council, Parish Councils, the membership-based delivery of the Tourist Information Centre, the Town Team proposals and perhaps a revitalised Chamber of Commerce, as well as a number of voluntary organisations; and deliver activity that is levy contributor / business focused, but also adding value to a ‘whole Bude area’ approach.
A UK leading environmentally focused, sustainable small town by… 2027(one BID term) or 2032 (two BID terms).
4.1 Is that the right ambition or should it be something else? Does sustainable small town imply the area around it as well or should it be more explicit?
4.2 If it is the right ambition – should it be part of a ‘whole Bude area approach’? And should lobbying for such an approach be one of the first acts of an established BID?
In May, June, and July (and extended period because of further lockdown extension), the project:
· Developed a series of short films to demonstrate the breadth and quality of business delivery in the Bude area and the sort of businesses that could be part of a future Bude area BID. These films can be viewed on the BBV website.
· Led an unsuccessful funding bid for £634,000, working with Bude Tourism Company, The Bude Climate Partnership, Transition Bude and Bude Stratton Town Council, to the Cornwall Council administered Community Renewal Fund – seeking funding for a suite of 11 projects to support and stimulate business and the development of a sustainable economy in the Bude economic area, including the further development of the BID proposal during the autumn and winter 21/22 period.
· Led Bude input, working with Bude businesses to the Cornwall Chamber, Cornwall advocacy work associated with the G7 summit.
· Delivered a first possible actual, not virtual group event on 20th July (only possible at the very end of the project) – presented the outline BID proposal to the audience of c60 people, within the context of the Bude Coastal Community Team vision for supporting the post-lockdown development of the Bude Area Economy.
Bude Business Voice is now paused while we seek additional funding to develop the project going forward.
Bude Business Voice Focus Groups. Businesses and Contributors
2 Belle Vue Avenue
ATI / Virtual Pop-Up
Bude Creatives / BCCT
Bude Business Voice
Tim Bagshaw, Celli Moriarty
Adrian Bennett, Sean Collins-Powell, Ian Saltern, Paul Tilzey
Business Success Agency
Dress Pack Solutions
CIoS Growth Hub
CIoS Skills Hub
Relax and Grow
MP for North Cornwall
Andrew Hopkins, Graham Sizer
Water Powered Technologies
St Ives BID
Simon Browning, Philippa Purchase