1st Open Meeting of Businesses 22.2.12

Attendees: 39 people representing

The Advocate Arms
The Chase
Beltec
Indulgence
Beechwood Guest House
Touches Beauty Salon
Medical Know How Ltd
The White Swan
Wild One Tours
Babbit Web Design
The George
Blanchards
Handy Cabs
Jossals
Forget Me Not
Something Special
Sunnyside Up
Brand Thing
Lincolnshire Landscapes
Waveney Cottage
Rasen Hardware
Market Rasen Pet Centre
PBFS Pest Control
Rasen Farm Shop
Footprints
C G Partnership
Nicholsons
Lincolnshire Tree Services
Push Creativity

Apologies:
RPC Containers
K & B Herbs

Full Notes of Meeting:

Richard Hallsworth from Nicholsons welcomes everyone.
Sets out objectives to be business focused, open and honest, considerate and fair.

Contact form to fill out.
Agenda and visual presentation to guide us through the evening but very informal – invitation to speak up or question at any time – all about getting everyone’s input.

Why are we here tonight? Well nothing to do with Neighbourhood Plan or Community Group. But did come out of those initial community meetings worried that might not work quickly enough to save the town. Brief introduction from the team on who they are and why they are involved – all about helping with passion to regenerate the town, NOT about funding, all about using collective skills to create a vibrant town. (NB. Although Mark is Head of Economic Regeneration at WLDC – he is involved with this group as a volunteer, as a resident of Market Rasen and passionate advocate of Market Towns).

Issues

  • Footfall down
  • Not attracting local shoppers
  • Empty premises
  • Poor/lack of signage for our free parking
  • Worse economic climate since 1929
  • Loss of consumer confidence
  • Media doesn’t help with negative reports, has an impact on what we do.
  • Banks not supportive
  • No longer a central help resources like Business Link
  • Culture of convenience against the town centre issue

Objective 1 – increase shopper traffic
What can we do?
Encourage 1 in 5 of 5000 population in town to spend £10 a week on the high street = £520,000 into the economy.

Tony Blanchard mentions elderly can’t carry or walk around the independents so go to super market where they use a trolley for support.

Objective 2 – make our town more inviting
Mark Sturgess took up the presentation at this point to saying that tonight is all about showing potential and taking small steps. A couple of Sundays ago, a small grouped walked around the town photographing the worst bits of the town. They also looked at good bits too, wished now that he had photographed them to show we have some good buildings etc.

Bit of background about the area:

  • 5,000 in town but we are in rural hinterland pulling in potential 33,000 (figure taken from Tesco’s research on deciding to build here). We should and could be a honey pot as we have great form as a town.
  • The ONLY AONB in East Midlands.
  • Some anti social behaviour but that is really about lack of youth activity.

Mark refers to the recent reporting on the 4.2 million which shows where the money was spent. It is fair to say mistakes were made and the ambitions for the town at the end of that process were not fully realised. Hopefully we can move forward on that now and see it through.

Takeaways not great looking – they serve a purpose but during the day, they are not a nice façade for shoppers – are they putting people off? Entering the town from the east, the Red Lion a good example of what can be achieved with a bit of investment. At the other end of town – the overgrown Railway bridge, boarded up Taal,  the Gold Mine give a very different picture. General dilapidation.

Planning is force for good. Planning should be about saying yes and doing it in the right way to support the investing of money in the town.

Vacant buildings – what can we do?
Council can take action, but would prefer – if we can influence owners/talk to the landlords of places like the Square Bar, the Gold Mine – should be really attractive entrances to the town.

This group can be a mechanism for change – looking for quick wins. Community planning group is valid and has its place but too slow for needs of business owners.

Let’s achieve physical improvements now – decent buildings, nice form, work together.

  • No reason why we can’t do a Helmsley, Wetherby (attractive images as part of the presentation) – size doesn’t matter!
  • Wareham – where Mark lived previously, not too dissimilar attracts a lot of summer visitors.
  • Louth attractive Market town (nb Louth has a population of 18,000 so not same) but we are competing for the same people’s business. Look at what Caistor has achieved for potential.

Sara Scott takes over to facilitate the brainstorming. It’s not about what we (the meeting hosts) want to happen. It’s about getting all the business owners involved and creating momentum for change.

Asked to write POST ITS under 12 category headers – areas of discussion like:
‘How can we encourage more local people to shop here’
‘How can we become a regional destination’
‘What can we do about empty shops’
‘How can we encourage start-ups etc.’

Excellent participation. Break for teas and coffee and read notes.
Businesses asked to ‘star’ the most important.
Clear leader is ‘improving the look of the town’
That will be the main focus for next meeting and action plan.

Back to Richard Hallsworth to round up.

  • Ideas on communication
  • How to measure effectiveness
  • Suggestion to call it Market Rasen Business Improvement Group (MR BIG)
  • Low on formality big on results
  • Get on with ideas and get on with doing it.
  • Formality around the structure for legals but want to get things done

Quick round up on things that we have started
We have got a social media hand out to explain Twitter, Facebook, Market Rasen Guide, for free listings and website link, also got a blog updating with summary and collate ideas. Instagram account with brilliant pictures.
Please add comments via the blog if you have an after thought.

Any questions?
Issues with landlords – what muscle do we have?
Most important thing to communicate to landlords as a group.

The landlord’s code  mentioned for people to be treated fairly.
Perhaps this is an area for a workshop onn how we can work together – on how to deal legally with landlords

Darren Lince – talks of objections by Town Council to his restoration of Gordon Arms  – now the Advocate Arms – also that the Town Council objected  to extension of number of rooms – when this is bringing affluent visitors into the town, this feels backward and personal to him. General agreement.

Need to pull together as a community. And buy from each other. Sarah Lamballe talks about spending different – not more, just using the same budget with different traders around town. Also about the traders evolving products and services to meet the needs of those who live in Rasen but work in Grimsby and Lincoln, so leave before shops open and return when they are shut.

Ken Bridger said Tesco are contributing £50,000 to do a walk way into town, need to work with them. General agreement that we need to engage with all the big businesses.

Thank everyone for coming. Very engaging, things will happen.
Huge thanks to Sheila for teas and coffee.

Several volunteers come forward and many more have said they wish to be part of a working group as we’re collating the Business Contact Info forms now. If you missed the meeting but want to get involved, please email us through out contact page, just click this link.

Next meeting – 5th March 7pm at Holy Rood Schoolroom, King Street.