Skipton Chamber of Trade and Commerce are fully behind the BID, and have no doubt that the levy is money well spent by its members.
Wendy Lee Griffin, Chamber co-ordinator, described Skipton BID as one of the leading examples of an organisation of its kind in the UK.
“Over the last ten years, its been fantastic to see how the business community funds have contributed to events and projects which have enhanced Skipton’s place in the nation’s heart,” she said.
“The Chamber loves to hear from visitors about how they came to a Skipton events and then returned, bringing more people with them.
“Skipton is repeatedly mentioned in the media as one of the happiest places to work and live, and it is a testament to the community spirit and support of the Skipton business community. Let’s continue the good work and vote for a BID third term.”
Skipton BID has long supported the Skipton Business Awards, providing foundation funding for the Skipton Chamber of Trade and Commerce event when it began in 2016.
Next year, it will be the headline sponsor for the awards.
Awards co-ordinator Wendy Lee Griffin said: “Thanks to the confirmation of headline sponsorship by the BID, the awards are secured for yet another year.
“They provide a brilliant opportunity for companies in the area to showcase their quality products and services, offered both locally and around the world and we are really pleased that the BID is keen to invest again in championing local businesses this way.”
A new raft of support measures for businesses in the town will be rolled out as part of Skipton BID’s third term.
The BID toolbox is designed to offer a wide portfolio of tools and training opportunities to all levy payers, and is a key part of the Business Plan for the third term.
Business Support – along with Attractive and Clean and Visit Skipton – is one of the three objectives that form the key planks of the BID Business Plan.
Skipton BID manager Geraldine Thompson stressed that this was an area that was going to be developed substantially in the third term.
“Over the last ten years, we have worked very hard at making Skipton a safer and more secure place to run a business and to live in and visit,” she said.
“Going forward, we will continue to do that – we’ve already committed to the installation of CCTV and we’ll continue to develop and improve the work we are doing with the Skipton Crime Reduction Partnership – but we also want to strengthen the other services we offer businesses.”
That already includes support with a grant finder programme and other business help and advice, as well as access to a huge support network of other members of Skipton BID – and members of all the other BIDs across the country.
“Going forward, we are going to develop our new ‘Toolbox’ of services and initiatives which will be available to levy payers either at no cost or at very favourable rates,” said Geraldine.
“That will offer a portfolio of free and heavily discounted business training opportunities and a range of subsidised business support tools – as well as things like grant-finding software, we’ll also offer access to HR advice and staffing and business support schemes.
“The BID will continue to contribute to the funding of footfall counters and other data capture services, and we will look to develop a ‘mystery shopper’ scheme to assist retail and other businesses.
“We will continue to support and develop schemes aimed at encouraging the use of local providers, and look at promotional trails and sector-related printed and online materials.”
“As well as the CCTV system in the town centre and the Skipton Crime Reduction Partnership, with the BID funding and promoting the ‘ShopWatch’ radio scheme, the BID will also continue to give financial support to the S.T.A.N.D (Stopping Trouble and Night-time Disorder) scheme for licensed premises, and will continue to fund and develop the Town Centre Ambassador Scheme.
“We will also continue to fund and promote the ‘Best Bar None’ scheme for licensed premises and fund and promote additional security advice and assistance to levy payers.”
In total, the BID plans £250,000 worth of investment in the Business Support strand of the Business Plan over the next five-year term.
Skipton has been named as the happiest place in Yorkshire and Humberside in a new national survey.
The town is rated above Harrogate and York in the Rightmove happiness index, which looks at many factors including a sense of community and feeling of safety.
While few in the town will be surprised at the accolade, those behind Skipton BID believe that its work over the last ten years has played a significant part in improving the sense of wellbeing and quality of life that such surveys recognise.
Skipton has often been in the limelight for its high placing in such surveys, and last year was named the happiest place to live in Britain by the Office of National Statistics.
That title saw national television and press coverage, and even made headlines in the New York Times.
Amanda May, Branch Manager of Dale Eddison estate agents in the town, said Skipton has won accolade after accolade including being named the happiest place to live in Britain by the Office of National Statistics last year, being voted as the best place to retire in 2012, and named the best place to live by The Sunday Times in 2014.
And she said the work of the BID played a big part in helping to create the sense of community and vibrancy that makes the town such a special place.
“Here at Dale Eddison we talk to many people, locally and from away, who tell us why they’ve chosen Skipton, and we consistently hear that they warm to the sense of community and vibrancy felt here, not just in the town but in the surrounding area too,” she said.
“And for us, Skipton BID plays an enormous role in achieving that, which is why we wholeheartedly support the scheme. The BID brings events and support to the town’s businesses which permeate way beyond the High Street, into people’s homes and sense of enjoyment achieved from living here, and that makes for a happy, special and thriving environment.”
And one of the town’s biggest employers, Computershare Loan Services, also gave their backing to the work of the BID.
Chief Executive Officer Andrew Jones said: ”Skipton is well-placed to attract high-calibre employees, and provides a great business location for workers and visitors alike, given its train links and surrounding countryside.
“We are impressed by the work Skipton BID undertakes to support businesses such as ours in the town.”
BID Manager Geraldine Thompson says there is no doubt that Skipton is one of the best places in the country to live – but she stresses that it is something that has to be worked on.
“It was brilliant to see the whole town come together recently for the Christmas Lights switch on event, and that was a fantastic example of the sense of community Skipton has,” she said.
“But that event was only possible thanks to the commitment and hard work of many, many, people and individuals, including ourselves at the BID, Skipton Town Council, The Rotary Club of Skipton Craven, Pennine Cruisers Santa’s Grotto, Dacres Skipton, Stray FM and all the many people who gave up their time to get involved.”
She said the many other events throughout the year, including Sheep Day, Skipton Waterway Festival and the Skipton International Puppet Festival, were heavily supported by the BID – and would likely to be either reduced in scale or lost completely if the BID went.
Rightmove’s annual Happy at Home Index, which asks residents how happy they are where they live, is based on 12 happiness factors, and looks at 219 areas across Great Britain. As well as being top in Yorkshire and Humberside, Skipton came out 15th overall for the whole country.
The happiness factors people include a sense of community spirit; feeling safe; sports and recreational activities; artistic and cultural activities; nature and green spaces; and amenities such as shops and restaurants.
In terms of safety, the BID played a key role in setting up and running the Skipton Crime Reduction Partnership and has recently funded the installation of CCTV cameras in the town.
Sgt Paul Evans of Skipton Police has said of the BID: “It’s been huge and really have made a big difference in helping us reduce crime and disorder in Skipton.”
The many events the BID supports, along with grants given to local organisations including Friends of Aireville Park for work on the brand new play area, The Coulthurst Craven Sports Centre for their all weather pitch, Team Ketchup for their Kids Comic Collective, Craven Development Education Centre and many more, contribute to both the artistic and cultural activities section and the recreational activities.
And the work funded by the support given to Skipton in Bloom undoubtedly contributes hugely to green spaces and amenities category.
“Skipton is a brilliant place to live and work. The people who live here already know that, and it’s growing reputation is one of the reasons people want to visit and come and live here,” said Geraldine.
“But we have to keep working on maintaining that quality of life. We want to be given the chance to invest £800,000 of BID levy money on improving the town still further over the next five years.
“And hopefully by the end of that period, we won’t just be regarded as the best place to live in Yorkshire, but as the best place to live in the whole country.”
Why I support the BID
David Roberts, of Hettie’s Café Bistro on High Street, is a keen supporter of the work of the BID.
“I’m unequivocal about my backing for the BID. It is not just for the people on the on the High Street retailer; typical footfall analysis shows how all businesses are affected by the percentage change in footfall, be that up or down wherever the business location.
“Without the BID there would be no centralised funding for the marketing of Skipton. The BID ensures that there is a meaningful, well-funded and coordinated voice feeding into the local authorities.
“The BID’s work plays a large part in drawing people into the town. The cost of the levy is very, very cost effective.
“The work it does helps to make the town a much more pleasant environment, and that has got to have a positive impact on the quality of life of everyone who lives, works, visits and shops here.”
THE Christmas Markets are a huge attraction for Skipton and form part of the town’s unique festive offerings.
With the extended Christmas Lights Switch On event combining with the Santa Run, they make up a package that brings tens of thousands of visitors into the town over Christmas.
And the Skipton BID plays a very significant part in supporting both these prestigious events, ensuring they get the backing they need.
The Christmas Lights are put on in partnership with Skipton Town Council, and BID manager Geraldine Thompson warns that their scale would have to be dramatically reduced if there was no BID funding.
And Kerry Wheelwright, Events and Tourism Manager withSkipton Town Council agreed, stressing that they would not simply be able to find the extra money if the BID was lost.
The lights have over the period of the BID been extended from just the High Street to many other streets across the town centre.
Geraldine says: “Our impressive lighting display receives hundreds of positive comments each year.
“We fund them in partnership with Skipton Town Council and that partnership has allowed the scheme to be extended away from just the High Street and into many other streets across the town centre.”
The BID has teamed up with the Town Council’s events management team to organise the town’s biggest lights switch on event ever this Sunday (full story on page ??).
And it also played a significant role in linking the event with the Skipton Santa Fun Run this year, allowing that event to start from the town centre and generating even more footfall for the town centre.
Sunday marks the start of three very important weekends of festive celebrations in Skipton, which proved a huge footfall for the town.
The Christmas Markets, now firmly entrenched in the top ten UK Christmas Markets, take place this year on Sunday 2 and Sunday 9 December.
Footfall counters show the markets, with seasonal live entertainment, funfair rides, festive food and drink, and other entertainment alongside the stalls, bring in 20,000 visitors – almost three times that of a normal Sunday, said Geraldine.
She stressed that both the lights and the Christmas Markets would be affected if the BID wasn’t there to support them.
“We have a fantastic display of Christmas lights which the Town Council do a great job of putting up,” Geraldine said.
“Shoppers and visitors are always impressed by the lights.
“But without the BID funding, the town would be back to a Christmas Tree outside the Town Hall and a few lights on the High Street.
“That is what used to be there, and BID money has enabled us to expand and improve the display.
“There is no other organisation that will be able to come along and replace that funding.”
She said BID money also made a big difference to the special attraction and character of the Christmas Markets.
“The thousands we provide for the markets allow them to close the High Street, and if we weren’t there, this funding wouldn’t be there either,” she said.
“The Christmas markets would probably continue, but unless they could find sponsorship to replace the funding we provided, they wouldn’t be much different to a normal market day.
“It would almost certainly lose the very special identity it has.
“Our markets are always in the top ten of Christmas Markets, and have won awards – last year, it was named as the ‘Best Large Speciality Market’ in the Great British Market Awards.
“Last year, we had 139 booked coaches for our special town ambassador service alone, and that again is a by-product of the BID as we fund the ambassadors.”
She said the three events undoubtedly gave traders in the town a huge boost before Christmas and the more difficult trading months after the festivities have ended.
Kerry said: “The Town Council doesn’t have the financial resources to replace the BID money.
“The town would have some lights and a Christmas Tree, but nothing like the fantastic display we are able to put on now.
“The same applies to the Christmas Markets. The Town Council wouldn’t have the money to provide any extra support, and it’s very unlikely the district council would either.
“That would undoubtedly mean they would not be as spectacular.”
Last month, businesses in Bradford gave overwhelming backing for a new Business Improvement District (BID) in the city.
And just a couple of weeks ago, Otley BID enjoyed a resounding yes vote for its second term and Harrogate secured its first term with 82% in favour.
They are among the growing number of towns and cities which have followed in the footsteps of Skipton since it became one of the first BID towns in Yorkshire ten years ago.
Keighley, Halifax, Leeds, and Colne are among the many other nearby towns and cities that now have their own BIDs.
And Ilkley, Burnley, and Knaresborough are all in the process of setting them up.
Those behind Skipton BID and local businesses supporting it say it is vital that as a BID pioneer, Skipton is now not left behind.
They are urging levy payers to vote YES in the renewal ballot which takes place in January to ensure the success of the last ten years can continue and be built upon.
BID chairman Andrew Mear said the work the BID had done since it was formed in 2009 had undoubtedly helped the town to thrive in many ways.
And he warned that a no vote in January would set the town back significantly and could see it left behind by its neighbours.
“Skipton can’t afford not to have a BID. The £800,000 investment it will be able to put into the town over the next five years will not come from anywhere else,” he said.
“And without that money, a huge amount of ongoing and new projects and events will be lost forever.
“What could the businesses on their own do with the small part of the levy that they pay? It is much better to bring it all together in one pot to benefit the whole of the town.”
He said anyone who was thinking of voting no should look at what was happening elsewhere across the region.
“Don’t just take our word for it. In the last four years or so, the number of BID towns and cities in the UK has increased dramatically,” Andrew said.
“Businesses are recognising how important they are, and how they are much better working together.
“Skipton is now surrounded by other towns and cities, each with a BID doing great work – Keighley, Otley, Halifax, Bradford, Colne and Leeds, for example. Others are on the way soon, including Ilkley, Harrogate, Burnley, Knaresborough, and Ripon.
“All of these places can’t be wrong – and it would be disastrous if Skipton, having been a pioneer of BIDs in the north of the country, was to lose its own. We really can’tafford to lose that investment at a time when surrounding places are ‘upping their game’.”
One businessman who fully recognises the value of the BIDs and their importance to towns and cities is Richard Wilson, who owns the Cake ‘Ole in Craven Court with Neil Senior.
They have a second business in Keighley and will soon by opening a third in the Pavilion building in City Park, Bradford.
Richard said the recently launched BID was vital for the centre of Bradford, just as it had been for Skipton over the last ten years.
He stressed that Skipton was their flagship operation and they would be staying here, and said the work of the BID had played a big part in their decision to first open in the town five years ago.
“The BID is really important for the town. The amount of people it brings in for events makes a real difference,” said Richard.
“The BID is there to look specifically at what Skipton needs as a town, and that is really important. Every town or city is different and has different needs.”
He said when doing market research to find a location, they had seen the amount of work the BID done in putting on events right through the year, and that had impressed them.
He agreed that it was vital the town votes yes in the renewal ballot, and that Skipton didn’t miss out on the advantages other BID towns and cities have.
“The BID is a crucial part of Skipton.”
Looking at the growing number of BIDs surrounding the town, Andrew said: “We can’t afford to run the risk of being left behind.
“The money the BID has to spend will make a huge difference to all of Skipton. Let’s make sure we keep that advantage and keep Skipton thriving.
“The BID has been able to invest £1.5m taking the town forward. Vote YES and allow that work for the good of the whole town to continue.”
Niki Talbot, who owns Teddy Boutique on Mill Bridge with her daughter Charlotte, is a big backer of the BID and the events it helps to support like the Switch-On and the Christmas Markets.
“When we decided to take the plunge and open Teddy Boutique we chose Skipton because we loved the unique feel of the town with all of its independent shops,” she said.
“We have both lived locally for 30 plus years and have gradually watched local high streets morph into clones of each other, but Skipton is different.
“And it’s important to keep it that wayif our lovely high street is to survive,” said Niki, who revealed they are about to expand their shop to open an upstairs sales floor.
“We believe the BID helps this by organising or supporting the many events that take place throughout the year. The Christmas Lights Switch On this Sunday is a great example of this; it will bring in thousands of extra people. And the Christmas Markets are fantastic and give trade in the whole town a real boost.
“These events and the many others that take place over the yearbring people to the town who, we know from our own experience, return time and time again and bring friends, not only to the events but for visits and holidays through the year.
These events bring people to the town who, we know from our own experience, return time and time again and bring friends, not only to the events but for visits and holidays through the year. This surely keeps Skipton on the Map as somewhere worth coming to.
“On a personal level the BID team have helped us as a small independent family business. The BID, in particular Geraldine, keeps us up to date with what is happening in the town and has provided us with opportunities to promote our business on more than one occasion.
“We are just about to open our upstairs sales floor and expand our range of
children’s clothes and beautiful baby gifts and we know the BID will be there supporting and promoting our efforts. So for anyone who has any doubts we would say give the BID your support. Skipton would be a very different town without it!”
Skipton police have backed the BID, and say the work it has done on crime prevention and disorder has been invaluable.
Sergeant Paul Evans says there is no doubt it has helped reduce crime and disorder and helped keep people feel safer in town.
The BID helped set up the Skipton Crime Reduction Partnership five years ago with partners Stopping Trouble and Night-time Disorder (STAND), Skipton Town Council and Craven District Council, ShopWatch, and Skipton Police.
BID Manager Geraldine Thompson said: “By working together, businesses in Skipton can discourage retail crime and anti-social behaviour and help the police catch criminals.
“The key to the success of the scheme is talking to each other and sharing information.”
That could include suspicious behaviour in the town, intelligence about offenders from other areas, notification of fraud attempts like fake vouchers or counterfeit notes from elsewhere in the region, and notification of theft and shop lifting incidents.
“That can be instantly shared on our smartphone app and through our radio system,” she said.
The Partnership was re-launched last year with the BID taking over the cost of members’ access to a secure database and the rent of the digital radios.
The Partnership, linking in to the existing ShopWatch and STAND groups, allows members to download a dedicated app for smart phones called DISC which gives instant access to vital information including banned lists, mugshots, offender profiles, news, alerts, documents, upcoming events, ID-sought images and much more.
Geraldine urged any businesses who were part of the BID who were not taking advantage of the scheme to come on board as quickly as possible.
Sgt Evans said: “The BID has helped us massively in terms of reducing crime and disorder and since I came on board they’ve enabled us to push on two of the main schemes which were the ShopWatch Radio Scheme and also the pub watch scheme STAND.”
He said help had been needed in maintaining the schemes, particularly the Shop Watch. Initially businesses had to pay a premium for a radio link which was a way to share information with each other and also a link to the police.
“The BID came along and said its part of our role – let us fund that. So what they have done is remove the cost for local businesses for the radio.
“The radio link is key. Sharing information, communication and intelligence. They’ve done a sterling job helping us fund that.
“On the back of that has come the web link, which again has brought the crime reduction partnership into the 21stcentury.
“The web link sorts out all the data protection issues that we had around paper records and BID has helped finance that side.
“Support for STAND with admin facilities in terms of capturing the people who are on the banned list and the galleries that are on the web app which can be shared amongst business users is thanks to the BID.
“They’ve been huge and really have made a big difference in helping us reduce crime and disorder in Skipton.”
Dean Majors, community champion at Skipton Tesco, said the store is a big supporter of the BID and of the Crime Reduction Partnership.
“We work closely with the BID within the community and also with the crime reduction scheme,” he said.
“They are a vital link between us and the independent businesses in the town by helping us keep one step ahead of any anti-social behaviour that happens from time to time.
“We vote YES to Skipton BID, as it offers us great support with any local events, like the markets and the Santa Run.”
Geraldine stressed that the future of both the newly-restored CCTV cameras and the Skipton Crime Reduction Partnership would both be in doubt if there was a no vote in the BID renewal ballot in January.
She said that as part of the Business Support strand of the BID Business Plan, the BID will continue to fund and promote STAND and the ShopWatch scheme if it gets the green light for a third term.
“We want to develop the sharing of intelligence and information across the town for the good of everybody who lives, works, and does business here,” she said.
“The BID can deliver the administration and funding to not only keep this partnership going successfully but to enhance and develop it to further improve the information we offer.”
Sera Brook, landlady of the Albion Inn on Otley Street, is also chairperson of the Skipton STAND group, which is the town’s pub watch scheme.
She says the BID has been a huge help with the legal side of the STAND and the administration of the lists and keeping them up to date.
“Crime is an issue and it is going to get worse as Christmas approaches. The Crime Reduction Partnership has helped our links with the police. To have Sgt Evans is great – we’ve got a specific person to go to. That wouldn’t work without the Crime Reduction Partnership.
“What the partnership does is give licensees the back-up they need.”
The BID keeps online a list of all the people banned from pubs, as well as information on potential issues and groups that may cause problems.
“The deterrent of being banned from every pub in Skipton that is in STAND, which is the majority of them, is a big one, and the knowledge that this list can be accessed instantly by all members has certainly acted as a deterrent,” says Sera.
“We are not about ruining people’s fun; we are just about keeping ourselves and our customers safe and the support of the BID helps us do that.”
Skipton BID provided the funding to refurbish the town’s Cenotaph earlier this year to make sure it was looking at its best for the 100thanniversary of Armistice Day.
Renovation work was needed to bring it up to scratch, so Skipton Town Council estates manager Joel Henderson approached the BID to see if it would support the cleaning and repainting ahead of the Remembrance Service.
The BID agreed to provide the funding of £2,100. Work was also done by Skipton in Bloom to weed and tidy up the Cenotaph roundabout garden.
Joel said: “We thought it would be a nice if the railings were looking at their very best in time for the Remembrance service, so we approached the BID, and they agreed to provide the funding.”
BID manager Geraldine Thompson said the board were more than happy to support the work.
“It was something the board felt was important we could do for the town, particularly in the centenary year of Armistice Day.
“We must always remember those who gave so much for us, so we were happy to provide funding for such a worthwhile investment.”
Skipton Town Council is also currently looking at the feasibility of illuminating the Cenotaph during winter months, following a request from the Royal British Legion
This Sunday will see the annual parade from Bunkers Hill to the Cenotaph, with those taking part lining up from 10am and heading to the Cenotaph for 11am for a short service by Reverend Veronica James followed by the wreath laying, with the main service afterwards in Holy Trinity Church.
The Visit Skipton brand is the first port of call for many people when they are looking online for reasons to come to the town.
Attracting more than 20,000 unique visitors to the Welcome to Skipton website every month – most of whom view at least three pages – it is regarded as the most important medium for promoting the town nationally and globally.
It was set up and is funded by Skipton BID – and a no vote for BID renewal in January could mean it would completely disappear.
“The Visit Skipton brand would certainly be vulnerable,” said BID manager Geraldine Thompson.
The site offers free listings for all BID levy payers free of charge, as well as for events that promote Skipton.
It is one of the highest-ranking sites for Google searches for Skipton.
Geraldine said: “Over the past five years, Skipton BID and Skipton Town Council have together developed Visit Skipton into a regionally and nationally recognised destination brand.
“The Welcome to Skipton website is a hugely important part of that branding, but it also includes many promotional and marketing initiatives.
“Skipton BID invests substantially into promoting and marketing our town both regionally and nationally.
“And in partnership with other organisations, it funds representation of Skipton at key tourism, leisure and group travel events around the country, helping to ensure the town stays on the radar for coach operators and group travel organisers.”
She said that although some people might say the visitors will come anyway, without the support the BID, it could well fall behind other towns where BIDs were setting up new promotional initiatives.
“If Skipton doesn’t continue to sing its own praises, no one else is going to do it for us,” she said.
If renewed, Visit Skipton is one of the three key tenets of the Skipton BID business plan for the next five years.
Investment of £300,000 will go towards developing and improving the Visit Skipton brand, including redeveloping the Visit Skipton website as the key source of information for visitors, developing and enhancing its presence on social media, and looking at further promotion of Skipton on an international level.
It would also be used to develop and enhance the wide range of festivals Skipton offers over the year, including the possibility of expanding Sheep Day from a one-day event to a week-long festival.
Skipton Castle has stood for almost a thousand years, and is one of the best preserved medieval Castles in the country; it attracts around 100,000 visitors every year.
Now the owner of Skipton Castle says the town is facing another important decision in its history – one that could have consequences if it goes the wrong way.
Sebastian Fattorini was involved with moves to set up Skipton BID ten years ago, and he believes it has helped to transform the town in that period.
And he says it is vital that the levy-paying businesses vote YES in the renewal vote in January next year to allow that ongoing work to continue.
The Fattorini family has owned the castle since 1956, having been involved in the fabric of commerce of the town since setting up a jewellery business at the lower end of the High Street in 1827.
Sebastian took over as administrator around 20 years ago, and had no hesitation in joining those who worked to set up the BID – one of the first in the north – when it was mooted.
“Prior to the BID, it was the same small group of people who promoted and supported the events in Skipton. What the bid did was to increase the resources so that the events could be bigger and better and Skipton promoted as a destination,” he said.
“The future of a vibrant town is a destination town. Skipton is a destination town. It has much to offer from the woods, market, canal, castle, and museum, attractive high street with its shops, cafés and restaurants against the backdrop of the Yorkshire Dales
“It is important to realise that all businesses in Skipton rely on a healthy local economy. The BID makes a significant contribution to supporting the local economy. It’s important that another term is voted in.”