Category Archives: Meeting updates

All meeting updates and information

MR BIG Update and Chance to Join the Board

MR BIG Directors and the Town Team welcomed traders and businesses members to a liaison meeting on Wednesday 31 July at the Market Rasen Cricket Club. The meeting was preceded by a motivational talk from sales expert Susan Marot. Susan gave practical advice on improving sales and offered her services to traders in Market Rasen – see Susan’s LinkedIn profile to get in touch

MR BIG Board Directors gave updates and plans on the 4 Portas Pilot Promises: Town Tidy Up, Shopping Sustainability, Marketing, and Market Development. Attendees heard that our ‘High Street’ is now approaching 100% occupancy with several new businesses having opened in the town over the past few weeks. July’s Independent Retail month activities had put Market Rasen on the map: the national lead, retail guru Clare Rayner, had visited the town and given a talk and advice at a business lunch at the Advocate Arms on 30th July. (See this link for more information about Indie Retail )

Sara Scott, Chairperson of MR BIG, displayed and introduced some exciting new marketing materials to promote Market Rasen as a tourist and visitor destination regionally and nationally. A ‘Shop Local’ promotion and posters were also previewed. Watch out for the posters and advertising boards going on display around the town over the next few weeks.

Richard Hallsworth, the Finance Director, gave a comprehensive update on the Portas Pilot money spend to date (as at May 2013 approaching 40% spend of the £98k funding).

The Town Team outlined plans for the £101k funding awarded from the Government’s High Street X fund. These include a community cafe, guerilla gardening and more Town Tidy Up activities.

All the presentations and information can be found on the two Powerpoint documents linked at the end of this post. If you would like a copy of the presentations emailing then please contact us.

Board Vacancies with MR BIG

We currently have 4 vacant seats on our Board. If you think you might be interested in getting more involved, get in touch. We are going to be holding a planning session in September to discuss our project plans and priorities for administering the £101K we won as part of the High Street Renewal Fund.

Joining existing Board members to generate ideas and discuss our approach provides the perfect opportunity to understand more about what we do and how we work together.

If you’d like to come along, simply email Nicola Marshall, Town Centre Manager on .

Applications for the roles will be taken following the session.

Traders' Liaison 31 July 13
Financial Summary 31 July Presentation

Market Rasen High Street has the X Factor



Around Christmas time last year, we drew up a bid and submitted it to government, explaining some of the great things we’ve achieved in Market Rasen and outlining some further ideas we would like to implement to continue our journey to re-invigorate the High Street.


We were one of 55 towns who applied (and submitted videos) and only 7 towns were given the award.  In the words of our representative from Government – we are a truly exceptional town.  We asked for £79K, But we were awarded £101,057. . .and it’s taken us a little while to find out why, which is why we’ve not been super-quick to announce the details of the win.  We wanted to get our facts straight.


So here they are.



Our bid was formed from the ideas laid down in our town transformation plan, written with the input of traders and business people back in February 2012.  It builds on the four promises laid down in our Portas bid:  Town Tidy Up, Markets, Shopping and Marketing and Promotion to drive footfall.


This bid includes a host of activites, they include:



Town Tidy Up


‘Operation Ice Cream’ which will create a fund to help shop owners and businesses repaint their shop frontages


  • Gardening initiatives, including community groups and schools to improve unloved areas of the town 


  • Love Your Street – a scheme to encourage groups to ‘adopt’ and care for areas of our town


  • Shop Window Award to develop Visual Merchandising skills for retailers




  • Management fund to ensure we can continue to host BIG monthly markets and to continue to fund our Town Centre Manager for a 2nd year


  • Funds to try new and different markets formats to keep things fresh and exciting


  • Work with local councils and transport providers to provide market day buses and trains from Lincoln and Grimsby.


Shopping Sustainability


  • Community cafe with gallery space and family friendly facilities and visitor information. 


  • Personal shopping service and outreach for vulnerable people and people without access to transport. 


  • Develop overnight accommodation provision and ensure our visitors have a VIP experience


  • Formal support package for start-up businesses




  • Improving the visitor experience through signage and information.


  • Shop Local campaign


  • Regional tourist promotions to create a branded offer to visitors, showcasing our towns assets including Racecourse, outdoor activities as a Lincolnshire Wolds Town, Biker events, Food Tourism etc.


  • Promote Market Rasen and surrounding villages regionally as cultural destination for arts and crafts


As you can see, there’s a lot to do here and the money we’ve won is allocated in small portions against each of these activities, so we need to think carefully about what projects we undertake in what order.  



There is no deadline on when we spend the money and we’ve still got approximately 50% of our Portas funds left – so there are plenty of projects on the go already.


We were keen to understand why the Government had awarded us an extra £22K.  The answer is that these funds are there to help us make our projects sustainable – so to pay for the people resources required to keep things moving, but also to help us spread news of our projects by networking with other town teams.  They are not to be allocated to new and additional projects to those outlined in our bid.


In the couple of weeks since the X Fund win was announced in the national media, I’ve been approached by a handful of concerned townspeople, who were worried or unclear about the purpose and remit of MR BIG.  First, a number of people expressed concern about the idea of having a ‘community cafe’ as part of our plans and that it would encroach on other eateries in town. To be clear – there is a limited budget of £10K against this activity and the focus will be on creating a family-friendly environment that fulfils a number of different functions for residents and visitors. The location and format of this initiative is not agreed and the opportunity will be tendered out at a date tbc for local businesses or groups to ‘bid’ to take this activity forward.  



Secondly, I’ve been asked on many occasions for MR BIG to extend the scope of works to tackle a host of different issues the town faces.  Again, we want to be clear that as a business improvement group there is a limit and focus to our remit that is around regenerating our High Street and businesses within Market Rasen.  Activities that encourage business growth will continue to be our primary focus.  Whilst these may have benefits to the overall community as a whole, our Group is not a catch-all for every issue our town faces.   


Our Board takes time and care to ensure that we remain true to the vision we set right at the outset at the beginning of 2012 – which was to make Market Rasen a more inviting place to be and to drive the footfall on the High Street that will benefit local businesses so that they, in turn can invest in our town.



In light of recent feedback from our members, we will be looking to meet with them more regularly and informally over the months ahead, so we can continue to canvass the views, opinions and ideas that have been critical to our success thus far.



Sara Scott – Chair MR BIG



Mr Big Trader and Business Newsletter – April Round Up

Thank you to those of you who were able to make it to the meeting last Monday. Although turnout was low, it was a positive and interactive meeting. We were able to learn a lot about how you think MR BIG is doing and where you think we need to put our energy over the next few months to make things even better.

Firstly, we heard you say that we need to advertise our events and meetings more: not just via email and social media but in flyers and posters that we hand out to you in person. We will get on with this straight away.

We know we need to do more to update you with more frequent newsletters: again, with a hard copy, posted up publicly and available in the Library to complement our wide-reaching social media. We will be getting a newsletter together in the next few weeks.

You would like to see more of MR BIG in person, on the High Street and around town. The Town Team will endeavour to visit all the High Street shops and businesses more frequently: just a quick hello is sometimes all that’s needed. Thank you for suggesting this.

Pop into see Nicola at the Big Corner Shop on Fridays or arrange an appointment with a director

Pop into see Nicola at the Big Corner Shop, 27a The Market Place at the Friday morning ‘open surgery’.

Remember that we do still have an open ‘surgery’ on a Friday morning: call into the Big Corner Shop and ask for Nicola the Town Centre Manager. You can also make an appointment to talk to one of the Directors. Just let us know.

Membership benefits are important and we are reviewing what we offer to MR BIG members. Feedback from you is that you would like a website with members’ businesses and shops listed; and more training and Business to Business networking events. We will get a B 2 B event organised and invite you along; we are happy to organise and facilitate these events so that you can share expertise and ideas; we can book motivational and expert speakers too.

There are a couple of quick wins which we will sort out: we will organise a Mystery Shopper programme for the towns businesses and shops – but only if you want to take part: it’s not obligatory. We’re hoping to have some funding from the Government to pay for this in the next couple of months. Additionally, we’ll get some temporary signs for our free car parks organised for MR BIG market days; we’ll talk to Highways about a longer-term answer to the poor car park signage, including ‘brown’ signs at the two main junctions with the A46.

The appearance of the town is really important to you: as it is to MR BIG. We have done what we can so far with the budget we have and have contracted Community Payback once a month until the end of the year. Our budget for Town Tidy Up is £4,000 for the duration of the Portas Project: this equates to roughly £7.30 for every commercial property in the town centre. The Community Payback contract will cost around £2000 for a year. We have written to West Lindsey District Council for financial support and are waiting to hear from them.

We are not able to justify using public money to re-paint and improve buildings which are in private ownership. However, we can explore negotiating discounts for labour and materials. We’d really like to do more and to help businesses paint and improve their buildings. We have written to owners and landlords of buildings which need attention and we should have some feedback from this exercise soon. Realistically we will have to wait to see the outcome of our X Fund bid (we should hear about mid-May) to see if we will have more funds which could then be allocated to a programme of painting and general tidying up. We will of course let you know as soon as we hear.

Thank you for taking the time to read this update. Please contact the Town Team on 01673 84 94 40 or email to get in touch.

Open Invitation: MR BIG Meeting with Businesses & Traders – 22nd April 2013 at 7.00pm Rase Park

Running a business can be hard work and very lonely at times but with the right help and support you are far more likely to succeed and survive.

With this in mind MR BIG would like to invite you to attend a traders’ meeting on at 7.00 pm on Monday 22nd April at Market Rasen Town Cricket and Football Club, Rase Park.

This is a great opportunity to update you on the activities of MR BIG over the last few months but also to understand what you, the traders, would like from MR BIG in the future.

The MR BIG team is keen to engage with all our traders and we value your feedback. If there is specific subject that you would like to feature at the meeting or a matter which you would like to discuss in more detail prior to the date then please do not hesitate to contact us. Please email Nicola Marshall with your thoughts:

We look forward to seeing you on the 22nd.

Natasha Travis, Director
Nicola Marshall, Town Centre Manager.

MR BIG gets bigger at 2nd Meeting of Market Rasen Businesses

40 local businesses attended our second meeting

The Market Rasen Business Improvement Group – affectionately known as MR BIG by its supporters – is growing in numbers, thanks to the backing of local business people.

The second public meeting organised by the group was extremely well attended with around 40 traders and business owners coming together for a productive two-hour session on Monday 5th March at Holy Rood Schoolroom, Market Rasen.

The group got its sleeves rolled up. Building on the success of broad-brush brainstorming activities at last month’s inaugural meeting, this month the focus was firmly on improving the appearance of the town, with a view to making it more appealing to local and regional shoppers.

Sarah summarises the views of her table

Three groups tackled issues of Events, Shops and General Standards. Within only an hour of brainstorming, the group created an action plan covering 20 topics with around 45 individual ideas put forward.

Crucially the plan also named names – people at the meeting who were willing to take an idea and make it happen, and many thanks to everyone who has done this. But we need more, of course.

All of the ideas generated have been collected together to create an action plan now shared by email with attendees at this meeting and those who attended the first MR BIG meeting in February.

The Group will be working in co-operation with local traders as well as other established groups and bigger businesses in the Market Rasen area, to ensure that actions are carried through to achieve visible improvements as quickly as possible.

MR BIG’s next meeting will be on Monday 2nd April at 7pm, Holy Rood Schoolroom. All registered business owners will be invited. If you’re a Market Rasen business and you want to be involved, click this link to complete our online registration form now.

What now?

STAY INFORMED, get all our latest posts on email, follow this link to Subscribe to Market Rasen BIG by Email, It’s free and easy to cancel if you change your mind.

20 topics of discussion generated 45+ ideas, already converted into an action plan

SHARE THIS POST as much as you can on Facebook, Twitter or by email, using the handy buttons at the top and bottom of the page.

Click these clinks to FIND AND CONNECT with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Or go to the Visit Market Rasen website to learn more about the town.

HAVE YOUR SAY – leave a comment at the bottom of this post to add your views or questions.

Last call for Market Rasen Business Owners – 5th March 2012

2nd Open Meeting for Business Owners / Manager is 7pm, Monday 5th March, Holy Rood Schoolroom opposite the Red Lion on King Street (ample free parking to the rear of the Schoolroom).

ANY business in the Market Rasen area is very welcome to attend.

This is the last call for new involvement as we’re going for actions and quick wins NOT meetings. So please spread the word…

Thanks to those who’ve volunteered for working groups – Monday will be about reporting on what’s happened since our last meeting and deciding on ‘what’, ‘who’ and ‘when’ actions need to be taken on ‘improving the look of the town’ – which was everyone’s clear priority from the brainstorming – so please come prepared with ideas and offers to actually ‘do’ something.

After Monday, we’ll be strictly action based at local level, working through all the priorities, while developing medium and long term plans to improve Market Rasen behind the scenes.

We will keep in touch as a business community ‘virtually’ via this blog so please sign up for alerts and pop back regularly to share posts as widely as possible and introduce new colleagues.

What now?

STAY INFORMED, get all our latest posts on email, follow this link to Subscribe to Market Rasen BIG by Email, It’s free and easy to cancel if you change your mind.

SHARE THIS POST as much as you can on Facebook, Twitter or by email, using the handy buttons at the top and bottom of the page.

Click these clinks to FIND AND CONNECT with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Or go to the Visit Market Rasen website to learn more about the town.

HAVE YOUR SAY – leave a comment at the bottom of this post to add your views or questions.

1st Open Meeting of Businesses 22.2.12

Attendees: 39 people representing

The Advocate Arms
The Chase
Beechwood Guest House
Touches Beauty Salon
Medical Know How Ltd
The White Swan
Wild One Tours
Babbit Web Design
The George
Handy Cabs
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
C G Partnership
Lincolnshire Tree Services
Push Creativity

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).


  • 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.