Skipton has an incredible range of places to eat and drink, and there is no doubt that the work done by the Business Improvement District (BID) has helped encourage that, say leading figures within the hospitality scene in the town.
The footfall brought in for events the BID supports, the work done by the Visit Skipton brand to encourage visitors to the town, and the BID initiatives to keep the streets of Skipton both safe and, all play their part in encouraging the thriving scene.
With voting on the BID renewal ballot due to start next week – ballot papers should have arrived with levy-payers this week – a number of the town’s many restaurants, pubs, tea rooms, and coffee shops have pledged their support for the BID.
And for BID manager Geraldine Thompson, the incredible choice of food and drink on offer in the town is yet another reason to vote YES.
“The work we’ve done over the last ten years has undoubtedly helped create a climate that has encouraged this large growth of places to enjoy one of the widest choices of great eateries and places to sit and have a drink around,” she said.
“That’s not just great for those businesses, but it means that the people who live and work here have a real choice of quality places to enjoy a meal or enjoy a coffee or a glass of wine.
“That has an impact of quality of life and encourages people to want to live here, which improves the potential market and the talent pool for every business in the town.”
Katie Davison of Bizzie Lizzies, which has two large fish and chip restaurants and takeaways in the town, on Swadford Street and at the High Street Car Park on Jerry Croft, agrees that the events have a huge impact on their business.
“If we weren’t to have that it would be a loss to Skipton and to us. We would have to maybe look at employing fewer staff, so it’s crucial for us and Skipton to carry it on,” she said.
And Andy Goodall, manager of the Woolly Sheep pub on Sheep Street, described the possibility of losing the BID as a ‘nightmare scenario’.
“A big part of what makes Skipton special is down to the work of the BID and the events they help to put on,” said Andy.
“We can see what a difference the events make in our footfall. The biggest thing we saw recently was the lights switch on which was great for us.”
He agreed there was a thriving eating out market in Skipton, with lots of competition springing up.
“But the more good places there are to eat and drink the more visitors come to Skipton,” he said.
“Part of the reason Skipton is thriving when other towns aren’t doing so well is because of the BID,” said Andy.
“I would urge everyone to back the BID. It would be a nightmare scenario to lose it.”
Katie said it was good for people to have lots of different options.
“Everybody needs choice and Skipton is such a lovely town, you can just walk up the High Street and nip in for a coffee or go and buy something off the market or nip into a shop,” she said.
“The events that happen in Skipton bring those extra people so that we are all busy, not just one restaurant. The BID helps the whole of Skipton, not just individual businesses.
“People need to look at the bigger picture. The events that happen might not seem to directly affect them that weekend, but if we are not getting people into town, if people aren’t encouraged to live here or spend the weekend here, then the people who live in the town who may go to a mechanics or may go to a hairdressers might not have the money to get their car repaired, or won’t be able to afford the luxury of getting their hair done.
“Having these events means businesses have to employ more people in the town, and that then generates more business for everybody.”
Mark Byron of Le Caveau on High Street agreed.
“Skipton BID is worth every penny of the small cost of the levy; the work they have done bringing locals and visitors alike into Skipton is remarkable – we see this when speaking to customers who are here for such events as Sheep Day or the Christmas Markets,” he said.
“We have seen a small amount of crime in the town recently and hopefully with the installation of the new CCTV which has been made possible by the BID if we are unlucky enough to have something happen we have that piece of mind that the incident will have been on camera. I for one will be supporting the Skipton BID’s next term.”
Wes Bond of Bean Loved on Otley Street said: “We are fully behind the BID. The events are great for us, particularly the Christmas Lights switch on this year, which was one of the busiest days we’ve ever had.”
He said that although the events might happen without the BID, the support and financial backing it gave made a huge difference to the scale of them.
“Since the BID started, these events have been improving year on year,” he said. “The BID is putting Skipton on the map and making it a real destination for people.”
Mother and daughter team Janet and Helene Simpson run Helene’s Tea Rooms on Coach Street, and are firm believers in the BID.
“It lets people know we are here and what’s going on. We really need to keep bringing the tourists in,” said Janet.
Helen Nixon and Gillian Hodgson opened up Greenwood Bistro on Victoria Street just four-and-a-half months ago.
Helen said: “We are very much in favour of the BID. I don’t think there are any negatives about it.
“Why would anyone vote against something that improves things for everyone?”