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18 facts about Bedford for 2018

1   Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are seen as the future for town centres. Bedford was one of the first 12 to pilot the project in 2005. The idea has now being copied in MK,  Luton and other nearby towns who want to win over Bedfordshire shoppers.


2   Christmas 2017 was promoted regionally via BedfordBID’s Love Bedford platforms. Late night shopping, Santa and reindeer, Xtra Xmas lights and FREE parking saw Bedford increase visitor numbers where other towns lost trade. 


3   2017 marked the 40th anniversary of the town centre’s Harpur Centre which, together with its underground car park,  encourages people to make millions of visits every year. It is now undergoing a major refurbishment.


4   In September 2017 the Riverside North development of a cinema, hotel and restaurants opened and is expected to attract 500,000 visitors in 2018.


5   BedfordBID is now in its third term - one of the few to have worked well by putting business interests high on the agenda of public service providers. It is voted for by town centre organisations.


6   The biggest businesses support the smallest via the BID. The smallest outlets do not pay the levy but still benefit from the activities and can take part in promotions. For most independents the levy amounts a only few hundred pounds a year.


7   The council is only the collection agency for the levy,  the money is passed directly to the BID.  The independent BID board decides how the money is spent against the Business Plan. The council does not dictate how they money is spent. 


8   Board members are volunteers from levy-paying businesses who are paid no extra money to give up their time to support the activity of the BID. One of the representatives is from the local authority. The BID has full-time Director of Operations, one full-time office member and a small team of front line staff.


9   BedfordBID is an experienced group who know the town centre inside-out.  BedfordBID is an example copied by other BIDs who aspire to have hands-on helpers linking visitors to businesses.


10   The award winning BedfordBID Town Centre Retail RadioLink & Exclusion Scheme unites the BID, businesses and CCTV which means up to the minute information can be shared about incidents and activities. In addition the BID has for a decade paid for the Taxi Marshalls who make sure visitors head home safely after a night out. Best Bar None sponsorship is another way of encouraging professional in customer care and service among pubs and clubs together with the BIIAB Level 1 Award in responsible Alcohol Retailing.  


11   BID Business Breakfasts are a forum for businesses to speak directly to those who can influence trading environments including the local MP, the Mayor, and the Police Crime Commissioner.


12   BedfordBID supports and sponsors projects which benefit levy-paying businesses in the town centre. It is not a substitute fund where public sector cuts have been made.  However IF a project is proven to boost footfall to levy-payers, then the Board may decide to make funds available.


13   The John Bunyan Boat has been a great example of a BID-supported project which has raised the profile of the town to potential visitors and has taken more than 20,000 trippers on river journeys.


14   Education and training is not the remit of the BID - but is does have close ties with major levy-payers Bedford College where 12,000 students and staff boost the thriving heart of Bedford. The college also provides training for staff vital to town centre businesses. 


15   Love Bedford Vouchers put money straight back into local tills - including those of independents who are often not allowed to join national voucher schemes. Buy BedfordBID Love Bedford vouchers online. www.lovebedford.co.uk/buy-vouchers.php The target of £1 Million worth of vouchers was reached 2017.


16   lovebedford.co.uk  is THE biggest website promoting Bedford to visitors near and far. It is the biggest hitter in terms of visitors who are really interested in knowing what’s on and when in town. It gives independents a platform to promote themselves to a wide audience they may struggle to reach within the limits of their individual resources.


17   lovebedford@twitter has more than 7,000 followers and the Love Bedford FB shares information from businesses about their events and activities.  Links to all Love Bedford social media is shared across all channels including print thanks to the central marketing fund.


18 Instagram images and movies help to keep Bedford in the picture. BedfordBID employs local professionals to present the best image of the town to those browsing on-line.

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