During the periods of lockdown, social media has been the only way many businesses can interact with potential customers. This makes it a vital tool to increase brand awareness, online sales and footfall as restrictions lift.

However, we know that acquiring the knowledge to keep up with the opportunities available can be daunting and time-consuming, especially when business owners and managers already have so much on their plates.

We have compiled some top social media tips with the help of Maybe*, a market-leading engagement platform, that businesses can quickly and easily implement whether currently open or not.

Here are five simple things you can do to maximise your reach and engagement.

1. Keep talking to your customers

If you are currently unable to open, it is vitally important to continue talking to your customers by finding new ways to engage with them. You could post giveaways, behind the scenes snapshots, meet the team features, tutorials or throwback images. Great examples have been a Bridgerton hair tutorial from Mark Blake Hair or the activity sheets and recipes posted by Huffkins.

While posts such as these do not directly ask the user to make a purchase, they help nurture existing relationships while increasing brand awareness among potential customers. If you need inspiration, the Maybe* platform allows users to see what similar businesses are successfully posting across the country.

2. Join conversations

Social media isn’t just about the content you post, but the conversations you join. By commenting on, liking and sharing the content of other local businesses, users can make their own business more visible while sharing relevant products and services with their followers. Plus, the businesses you engage with will be more likely to share your content, meaning it will reach new audiences and potential customers. Maybe* makes this interaction easy by integrating posts from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn into one feed, allowing you to quickly like, share or comment on the posts of those you follow.

3. Focus on the platforms that work best for you

The world of social media can be vast and intimidating, but don’t feel like you need to do it all. Use Maybe* to identify the platforms where your customers are most engaged and invest time in posting great content on that account. As humans have short attention spans, we also recommend using engaging visuals alongside your posts. Canva is a graphic design platform that allows you to create professional visuals quickly and easily for free. A paid version is also available with more usability and design features.

4. Use analytics

Data can tell you when to post for maximum engagement and what content works well with your audience. Providing the inside knowledge needed to adjust your social media strategy for maximum output, Maybe* tracks such insights and presents them using accessible visuals, even allowing you to match social media activity to online spend, offline spend and footfall. Using a piece of scheduling software such as Hootsuite also allows you to build a solid strategy by planning and scheduling your content in advance.

5. Brush up on your skills

Whether you are just beginning to dip your toes into social media management, are in dire need of a social makeover or just fancy streamlining your tactics and goals, Maybe* offers a range of training that can enhance your online strategy. This includes over 400 help articles, free webinars and one to one support.

Cheltenham BID is working with Marketing Cheltenham and Cheltenham Borough Council to offer businesses a free membership to the Maybe* platform. BID businesses can claim their free account by visiting www.https://www.maybetech.com/.

BID businesses can also get in touch with alex@cheltenhambid.co.uk for more advice and support with digital marketing.

‘Loos for you’, a new pilot scheme, begins this week as part of the Cheltenham Toilet Partnership scheme.

Cheltenham BID is working in partnership with Cheltenham Borough Council and local businesses in order to provide more readily available toilet facilities for visitors and shoppers.

Running from Tuesday 8 December 2020 with an initial review of customer feedback at the end of February 2021, the pilot scheme will see both the John Lewis Partnership and House of Fraser Cheltenham stores make their toilet facilities available to the public during normal opening hours without having to make a purchase. Both retail outlets will be displaying their ‘Loos for you’ sticker provided by the Council, indicating their participation in the scheme and the level of facilities available. At a later date, the trial will include the Regent Arcade toilets.

Belinda Hunt, Operations Manager at Cheltenham BID said: “We are grateful to John Lewis & Partners and House of Fraser for helping to get this scheme off the ground. We hope that their confidence in the scheme will encourage other BID businesses to get involved and offer their support.

“Knowing they can access facilities which are kept to the highest standards will give visitors the assurance they can comfortably go into the businesses. This in turn gives the businesses the opportunity to welcome potential customers who might not otherwise have visited them.”

Cllr Chris Coleman, Member for Clean and Green Environment said: “This pilot is all about working with the local business community to offer clean, safe and accessible toilets for residents and visitors in the town. The extra convenience will benefit all. The council run toilets will continue to be open as advertised and we hope that in the future if the pilot scheme is successful that more hospitality and retail outlets will join our partnership.

“We are keen to have feedback from those using these ‘Loos for you’. Posters will be displayed in each facility, which will have details on how to give us feedback.”

James Carter, Partner and Department Manager at the John Lewis Partnership said: “We’re really pleased to be working alongside the council and other local businesses in joining the Community Toilet Scheme. Access to clean facilities is important for many of our customers and visitors to Cheltenham, and this scheme will really help in maintaining the town as a great retail and leisure destination.”

Further information on Cheltenham toilet partnership scheme and a list of frequently asked questions will be available online www.cheltenham.gov.uk/loosforyou.

Cheltenham has today launched a new campaign to encourage business growth and investment in the town. Developed by Cheltenham Borough Council and its destination and place marketing arm Marketing Cheltenham alongside Cheltenham BID and local brand agency ASHA, the new ‘We’re Moving to Cheltenham’ initiative seeks to highlight the scale of investment and business growth that is underway across Cheltenham, the positive effect this is already having in attracting new business into the town and the range of opportunities that make it attractive for others to do the same.

From its enviable UK-wide connectivity to its world-class festivals and top-rated education, Cheltenham is regularly voted amongst the best places to live in the UK. So as the world continues to adapt to the ‘new normal’ and a more flexible approach to office working begins to emerge, Cheltenham is positioning itself as the perfect location to not only provide an attractive quality of life, but to also grow a business, providing the kind of flexible co-working spaces, access to talent and world-leading innovation that few other UK locations can offer.

Fuelled in-part by Cheltenham’s burgeoning cyber-tech community – which is now the largest business cluster of its type anywhere in the country outside of London – the town has a definite spring in its step, despite the challenging economic conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Such is Cheltenham’s growing reputation as the home of cyber and digital innovation in the UK, the likes of Microsoft, IBM and Apple have already been attracted to the town, whilst some of the most exciting tech and cyber start-ups in the country are here in Cheltenham.

Last month, it was confirmed that six potential partners have been shortlisted for the £400 million, nationally-significant Golden Valley Development, home of Cyber Central – a new campus and cyber-tech community adjacent to GCHQ.

It’s not just the Golden Valley that is seeing new investment coming in however. Elsewhere in the town, an enabling and forward thinking approach has helped to bring forward a number of new office space developments over recent times, from Honeybourne Place and the funky, award-winning Formal House to the landmark Quadrangle – complete with rooftop restaurant – which is now nearing completion. The emerging Minster Innovation Exchange in the centre of the town will provide further flexible, co-working space for the town’s growing cyber and digital businesses, adding to the success of Hub8 which occupies 7,000 sq ft of Cheltenham’s predominantly leisure based Brewery Quarter development.

Steve Jordan, leader of Cheltenham Borough Council, said: “Despite the many challenges that COVID-19 has thrown at us, as a local authority we have continued to act and respond as proactively as we’ve been able to in supporting our community and economy. At the same time however, we’ve maintained our longer term vision and ambitions for the town and the We’re Moving to Cheltenham initiative is just another example of our commitment to supporting not just the town’s recovery, but its continued and ongoing renewal and resurgence as one of the most attractive places to do business in the UK.”

Diane Savory OBE, chair of GFirst LEP and the new Cheltenham Economic Recovery Task Force, said: “This new We’re Moving to Cheltenham campaign is a great demonstration of the kind of bold and imaginative approach that’s needed to rebuild business confidence in the town. I look forward to continuing to work with colleagues and partners in Cheltenham to support the county’s inward investment ambitions and to exploit the many opportunities that Cheltenham and Gloucestershire offer in driving innovation, talent retention and business growth.”

Belinda Hunt, operations manager at Cheltenham BID, added: “Here at Cheltenham BID, we’ve long recognised the need for a vehicle to promote Cheltenham’s wider business interests and to attract new investment into the town. We’re delighted therefore to see the new We’re Moving to Cheltenham initiative underway and would encourage businesses across the whole town to support the campaign.”

The new We’re Moving to Cheltenham website can be found at www.movingtocheltenham.com. The video can also be found on YouTube – https://youtu.be/ISHKLxvqr3Y

The No Child Left Behind community agreement was launched on Thursday 3 September. It was launched across the town, which has so far seen over 30 schools and organisations across all sectors commit to working with families in a way that focusses on kindness, understanding and empathy. 

Across the borough, 15 schools and 16 organisations have signed up to the aims of the NCLB community agreement. For those who have signed up the agreement is a commitment to making sure that services across our town are delivered with kindness at their core, taking into account families’ individual circumstances and experiences. The agreement is determined to play a part in creating a brighter future for the children and young people in Cheltenham, and ensures that no child is left behind.

Cllr Flo Clucas cabinet member for healthy lifestyles said: ‘’We’ve seen extraordinary resilience and compassion during the pandemic. As part of the No Child Left Behind initiative I’m delighted to see that so many have signed up to the NCLB community agreement which will see that support continue.

‘’Our Cheltenham families will know that advice, help, assurance and assistance is there for them. It will be offered through inclusive and compassionate environments where they will be able to talk about issues affecting them, without judgement, and supported in a way that focusses on their strengths and helps them overcome their challenges.

‘’It might be that someone has a situation at home and is unsure where to ask for help or there may be an employer who wants to offer a fuller support package for staff. Wherever you see the NCLB community agreement mark you know you can get advice and support with kindness at its core.’’

Charlotte Blanch head teacher at catholic primary school, St Gregory the Great continued: ‘’We have signed up to the NCLB campaign as our pledge to work alongside our children and their families to support them in being the very best they can be, no matter what socio economic class they’re from and no matter what experiences they have had in life.  We believe it is now more important than ever to work together as a whole town to understand one another better, build relationships with each other and recognise how we’re all valuable cogs of the same machine, working together to do the very best for our children, the future of our town.’’

Maria Allebone, digital and communication executive at Cheltenham BID, continued: “We have always been a great supporter of No Child Left Behind and have signed up to community agreement because we want not only to see the business community do well but would like to see everyone in Cheltenham thrive. It starts with our young people, these are our future entrepreneurs, hoteliers, retailers as well as customers. The BID is continually organising free inclusive family activities across the town centre, encouraging businesses and employees to interact with participants. Our 2020 summer trail; the interactive Hidden Cheltenham Trail and the Monster Hero Safari Trail are two great examples of how we have achieved this.”

NCLB continues to build on its successes and learning points of the past year. Led by the borough council, together with its core partners, it continues to address the report which identified more than a third of the town’s children were living in poverty. These children were statistically more likely to experience challenges such as school exclusion, lower educational attainment, poorer mental and physical health, and an increased likelihood of having social care involvement in their family.

The initiative has also launched a new website, designed to highlight the strengths and achievements of Cheltenham families and organisations, and to provide signposting and support.  

Follow @NCLBchelt or #NCLBchelt

Cheltenham BID has worked with more than 24 businesses on an exciting new Christmas marketing initiative designed to encourage people safely into the town centre this December.

An interactive advent calendar offering daily giveaways will sit on the BID’s social media channels throughout December, each day requiring entrants to answer a question related to a specific BID business.

Participants will be encouraged to go and safely interact with the businesses, and specific questions may require a study of window displays or a peep through to the shop’s interior. Once the answer is sent in, the participants will be in with the chance of winning the prize. 

For more competition information and the terms and conditions, visit https://bit.ly/3kJ9MnL.  

We have kindly been donated lots of high-quality prizes from businesses, including £500 worth of vouchers from Beards, prizes from Anthropologie, W.H Smith, Boots and so many more.

Do you follow Cheltenham BID on social media?

The Small Business Saturday tour, now in its 8th year, is one of the most valuable ways of both promoting and engaging directly with the nation’s small businesses. This year has been a huge challenge for small businesses, making it even more vital to support and promote our small businesses and their communities.

This year the tour will be conducted virtually, being the UK’s first online roadshow for towns and cities affected by the pandemic, offering a comprehensive package of support and mentoring. 

Kicking off on 2 November 2020 with daily ‘virtual visits’ to small businesses and communities in more than thirty locations across the U.K, Small Business Saturday UK will offer an ambitious, vibrant and intensive programme of locally targeted online advice, workshops and mentoring.

With the aim to support, encourage and uplift small businesses across the country facing the challenge of a second wave of Covid-19 restrictions, the virtual tour will form a central part of the official countdown to Small Business Saturday on 5 December. Now in its eighth year in the UK, Small Business Saturday celebrates small business success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support businesses in their communities.

How can you get involved?

The Tour 2020 from @SmallBusinessSaturdayUK is virtually visiting us on Thursday 19 November as part of their first ever online roadshow.

There are many activities taking place on the day to champion, support and inspire small businesses including: workshops, live interviews, fun-filled happy hour at midday and free mentoring sessions.

Interviews: If you would like be interviewed about your small business, local area or expertise please email: bustour@smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com

Mentoring: To book a free, virtual 1-1 mentoring session with a local business expert, please follow the link to create your free ‘My Small Business’ account and choose a time & topic that suits you: www.smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com

Daily Activities

Mentoring Sessions
The tour this year sees the return of the mentoring program. With help from the tour supporter, BT Skills for Tomorrow, we will provide mentors who can offer free support & advice to small businesses on a range of topics such as social media & digital marketing to cost & time saving advice.
To book: Each session will be available to book via the ‘My Small Business’ section at www.smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com.

Your help: Please spread the word of the mentoring sessions available on your designated day.

Live interviews
The famous ‘live interviews’ are back. For each stop, we will interview local small businesses, experts, local councillors, MPs and other local dignitaries. They will have the opportunity to share stories, demonstrate their product or business, promote the local area or offer help and advice, via the campaign’s social channels.
To book: email bustour@smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com
Your help: Please help out us get in touch with your local small businesses, councillors, MP’s and any other dignitaries to be interviewed on your designated day.

Happy Hour
Launched during lockdown, our small business happy hour live series has seen phenomenal success and has now firmly become part of some viewers weekly routine. It is a vessel for us to share good news stories from across the world of small business, and also offer the chance to win fabulous prizes from small businesses.

During the tour, we will broadcast with the addition of actually featuring live, some of the businesses we are talking about in the good news section, or the provider of the day’s giveaway.
Your help: Please share with us local small business good news as we draw closer to your designated day. Any suggestions for the small business provider of the day’s giveaway are most welcome. Please note, we are not looking for donations; we will purchase the products from the small business.

Business experts will be running workshops at each ‘stop’ at 11AM for up to an hour. These workshops will offer helpful tips and tricks or the opportunity to learn some new skills. Please see the schedule for details of upcoming workshops and how to join.
To book: All workshops will be available to book on our website and are open to all small businesses UK wide: https://smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com/the-tour#workshops

Your help: Please share and encourage your networks to attend.

We are working with Visit Cheltenham on a Christmas campaign and would like to be able to share a joined-up town centre message about a safe and convenient place to come and do Christmas shopping during November and December.

Are you planning on opening late?

Are you planning any safe festive activities?

Please email info@cheltenhambid.co.uk

What is the BID is doing? –

The BID will ensure that Christmas is special this year by providing completely new Christmas lights across the town centre, supported by Cheltenham Borough Council. It also plans to put on a range of family activities and continue to work with businesses to make Christmas as special as possible.

As well as the sparkle during the darker hours, the new Christmas lights will bring a gleam during the day.  Golden baubles will hang from the trees on the pedestrianised Promenade and gold powder-coated holly, reindeer, stars and harps will adorn the lampposts in other streets.  A new Christmas tree will be installed at the Montpellier roundabout.

We have a fun interactive augmented Christmas trail up our sleeves. Christmas Spirits will spring to life when children scan the QR codes hidden in businesses windows around town, as they attempt to find Father Christmas ‘s brother and win an ebook, as well as an exciting Christmas Cheltenham Gift Card campaign to include a fun festive viral competition on the theme of supporting local and a £1,500 Cheltenham Gift Card first prize provided by the Gift Card company.

As part of the BID’s Tidy Up Cheltenham campaign, the Ambassadors have been busy tidying areas of the town centre that needed a bit of sprucing up. It is important that the town looks tidy, clear and presentable for both our businesses and people coming into the town to meet, shop, dine and enjoy.

Over the last couple of months, our team have been getting on their hands and knees weeding areas such as the area outside the front of Yates, Post Office Lane, The Children’s Library, Regent Street, Ormond Terrace, Portland Street , Winchcombe Street, Grosvenor Terrace, The Strand, areas of Montpellier Street and Bennington Street.

The Ambassadors have also been busy assisting businesses with waste and collection service, beer keg removals, broken hoarding, reporting fly tipping, broken pavement, and lamp post covers among many other miscellaneous finds.

The Ambassadors work closely with the Cheltenham Borough Council Street Team and Environmental with the aim of keeping Cheltenham town tidy and safe.

Ten new BID businesses have been invited to be part of Cheltenham’s newest exciting FREE interactive town center trail – the magical Christmas Spirits Trail. Trail will start – Saturday 14 November – Sunday 3 January.

The Christmas Spirit Trail is an interactive experience trail with a difference. Families don’t just walk from one stop to another looking at things – they fully interact with the trail by scanning the QR codes (kids love to do this), seeing the colourful characters burst to life with animations, learning their unique stories and are finally rewarded with a bespoke Christmas Spirit eBook at the end.

The trail will lead groups to 10 locations within the BID zone (town centre) where Near Field Communication (NFC) – a contact-less communication technology – and QR codes will be used to identify the individual Christmas spirits.

You may not have heard about him but Santa has a less famous brother, Albert Claus. Albert’s job is to maintain the Christmas Spirit and spread joy bubbles on Christmas day, but he’s gone missing!

By visiting the trail stops and speaking to each of the cheerful Spirits of Christmas, players will learn what has happened to Albert and, finally, be able to solve the mystery, save him and read a free Christmas Spirit eBook at the end.  

Meet Koto, ‘Spirit of Christmas Song’, one of the 10 ‘Spirits of Christmas’ on the trail.

Trail map and more information to come.

Keep up to date with the FACEBOOK EVENT.

Cheltenham BID are confident that the trail can be played in a very safe and responsible manner. Players will likely be in family/small groups and will not need to enter any buildings to play. All displayed materials will discourage players from physically touching the windows/posters and the BID will install markings around the window decals to give families space to interact with them one group at a time.

The Cheltenham Trust (The Trust) is a registered charity that was established in 2014 to manage the town’s iconic venues, the Cheltenham Town Hall, The Wilson Art Gallery and Museum, Pittville Pump Room, Leisure at Cheltenham and Prince of Wales Stadium on behalf of Cheltenham Borough Council.

The charity stood out during this unprecedented time for its quick response to working within the community. The Trust repurposed its assets and resources including its in-house catering team to make use of their fresh food produce to create frozen ready meals and to organise food parcels to support the Gloucestershire Community Help Hub in delivering these to those in isolation and the most vulnerable people of Cheltenham. Their innovative virtual lockdown campaigns also did not go amiss, such as their newest town centre community bunting project incentive #LetsMeetAgain.

Cheltenham BID’s Maria Allebone speaks with Laurie Bell, Chief Executive, and Sara Oliver, Head of Marketing and Communications, as The Trust is named the BID’S Business of the Month for April.

MA: How are you both feeling after being in lockdown for six weeks?

LB: This is such an unpredicted situation; we all have been thrown into a situation that we have never planned for or imagined. It is about keeping that balance of how you manage in the now as well as always looking into the future and the positives of what it could look like and be like when we come out of the other side. We must make sure we are resilient and robust going forward.

SO: Similarly, I like focusing on activities that are moving forward, and that has been a challenge due to lockdown. I think that is a challenge for a lot of people, but I am feeling quite positive as we move forward. We are always planning and rolling out initiatives, and just seeing the community response and spirit has been really rewarding.

MA: Laurie, for people who are not familiar please could you tell us a little bit about The Cheltenham Trust?

LB: We manage an eclectic mix of the big iconic venues across Cheltenham that most people are very familiar with. They cover culture and entertainment through to leisure and general wellbeing. We do this at arm’s length for Cheltenham Borough Council our main partner. The Trust is a commissioned service. Cheltenham Borough Council give us a small grant each year which allows us to do a lot of the community work that we do, and the rest comes from the income that we generate through all our activities. So, whether that is the shows that many people attend at the Cheltenham Town Hall, weddings or other big banqueting events that are also hosted at the Pump Room, or whether it is through the memberships at Leisure@. Plus, we deliver other events at The Wilson. Our calendar for the whole year looks at how and where we can work with partners in Cheltenham to make the culture offer for the town really strong to entice not only local residents but also visitors to come into the town.

MA: Sara, what challenges have you faced during this time?

SO: From a marketing and comms perspective the biggest challenge has been ensuring we are reaching our audiences and that our messages are relevant.  You have probably seen that we have gone very much online, even though we have always had a strong digital presence, now it has become even more key. We are now reaching people who may not have followed us before and are building new audiences, which is great. We’ve not necessarily experienced problems, it’s been more a case of adopting different ways of approaching our communications and how we interact with people.

MA: How have you approached your communications differently so that you are reaching people?

SO: We are taking a clear focused approach to our communications, we analyse data to see where the traffic is coming from and look at what people are responding to and interacting with. That was apparent from the great response we had when we asked through social media for donations of cardboard boxes for our food delivery service. Within hours the community had swung into action and boxes had started arriving, and they just kept coming!

We are working hard to ensure our messaging is interesting and engaging and that we’re using appropriate channels. We’re active on LinkedIn, we are seeing a lot traffic via Twitter, particularly for our Let’s Meet Again project, and of course Facebook and Instagram. We also have a weekly column, Living Through History, in The Echo. We are also about to take our exhibitions online. It is about being very clear with our messaging and looking at where people are and where they are accessing information.

MA: For more detail about #letsmeetagain visit www.cheltenhamtrust.org.uk

We look forward to seeing your bunting Laurie and Sara this is exactly the reason why we have chosen you as our BID business of the month, not only for your innovative virtual campaigns, fantastic customer service and communication skills but also for all the hard work you are doing to keep the food boxes topped up and delivered for the Glos Community Help Hub. Laurie tell us how you have managed to achieve this?

LB: This was about responding very quickly to a situation and recognising as a Trust what resources and assets we had and how they could be repurposed to meet what was required. We have catering staff as we deliver all our own catering now. When the pandemic first started, we were asked by Cheltenham Borough Council whether we could assist in any way getting some food parcels urgently to people that needed them. This was just before the Community Help Hub was set -up. They needed some meals which was not a problem at all because we had redeployed our catering team, prior to furlough, to convert supplies into meals that could be frozen ready for when we re-opened the venues – so we had six months’ worth of meals already frozen. We started a mini production and were able to produce food parcels to those most vulnerable. We started doing 10 or 15 meals a week but now do more than 100. We are also sending more than 30 food parcels every day.  We are fortunate to have a refrigerated van that also carries hot meals that we were able to repurpose.. The catering team are the most enthusiastic and driven team that anybody could ever wish for, they requested not to furlough as they wanted to be contributing to the community at this time.

MA: We cannot thank you enough for the services you are offering. Can I ask a few questions now about the businesses and The Trust’s relationship? What are the benefits of the Trust to town centre businesses?

LB: That’s a good question and I think for me it’s about recognising the strength of Cheltenham is about its partnership working. It is about recognising that none of the organisations on their own are going to be as successful as they can be, unless they work with others. The Trust has always positioned itself, or certainly over the last 12 months, as very much a key partner in what we can offer, whether that’s our venues that are in the heart of the town centre that lend themselves to hosting business type events, but also in as much as how we can help compliment the what Cheltenham has to offer. The Trust works with businesses, so that when people come to Cheltenham they see the town and what makes it special. It’s vital that  do that, especially now, if we are going to rebuild and recover as quickly as we can. We need to all be in this together with a collective responsibility.

MA: What would you say to those who consider The Trust to be elitist?

LB: That’s interesting because I can understand why you ask that but I have only been in post for a year and one of the key things that I was concerned to do when I first joined was to break down any barriers that would exclude anybody from The Trust in any of its venues because, for me, we are at the heart of the community. Yes, we have to generate income but we generate income to be able to do more for the community. So, our relationship with businesses is about partnership working and how can all improve the wellbeing of Cheltenham. I would hope that we have stopped any elitism that may have existed before, and I think this may have been more predominantly perceived at The Wilson. Prior to lockdown and the pandemic, The Wilson had been attracting visitors as we introduced a new cafe and lots of new events for different age groups and demographics. Prior to lockdown we were seeing very different types of audiences going into The Wilson, just enjoying a coffee and the environment whereas before I think it was maybe  largely frequented by people with an interest in heritage and art, whereas now it is offering something for everybody. One of the things we are planning to do which was missing is to create a fantastic community space to showcase community art and creativity and on the rise of this pandemic one of the things that both Sara and I are very keen to see is that we become the host venue to showcase how Cheltenham has coped so well during this time through its creativity, fantastic rainbows or its letters that have been written from younger people to older people in care homes and the bunting for the Lets Meet Again campaign.

MA: That takes us nicely onto the Let’s Meet Again Campaign. Please tell us about this new project, where people are being asked to produce bunting to adorn your buildings when we reopen?

SO: Funnily enough the campaign was sparked from Laurie, she is a very creative person. We were bouncing some ideas around and Laurie said “hey, what about bunting?” and it took off from there. Bunting is vibrant and colourful and has got that traditional element to it but also it is something that everyone can do. People are facing different situations, some are shielding, others are furloughed and families are home schooling their children. This is a way for everyone to be creative and to keep themselves active which is good for wellbeing. The concept behind #letsmeetagain was that it is a way of being able to engage with the community so that they can contribute and be part of it, and also how fantastic it would look across Cheltenham.

Our buildings are big so we have a big challenge to get a lot of bunting made, but it could then roll out across the whole of the town centre. What a fantastic sight that would be. Our aim is to have our venues, and Cheltenham, looking wonderful to welcome everyone back and to celebrate us being able to meet again. Ironically just a few days later Her Majesty The Queen gave her broadcast and said exactly that, that we will meet again!

We felt that #letsmeetagain summed up how people feel as they are currently not able to see family and friends. We are all looking forward to when we can meet again and enjoy that social interaction. That’s where the idea came from. We launched it last week and, as you saw, it has had lots of interest. We are very much looking forward to seeing the bunting starting to arrive.

LB: This campaign is about getting everybody in what have been quite dark times to focus on something that is very positive and to keep everybody focused on recovery because there is no doubt, we will recover from this. We are going to come out the other side but it is about getting everybody to almost grab that now by maybe sewing, knitting or crocheting or drawing. Whatever it happens to be, they are playing their part in what the future is going to look like. For me that is what this is about, and somebody needed to drive that and do something a bit different. We are getting some great support from some of the businesses as well who do want to work with us on this. We are all in this together.

For more detail on how to get involved in the #LetsMeetAgain campaign visit www.cheltenhamtrust.org.uk or email Sara on sara.oliver@cheltenhamtrust.org.uk

The eagerly awaited ice rink coming to Cheltenham would be part of a new-look Christmas in the town centre.

The Christmas Market would be expanded in a project-led by the BID and the outdoor Imperial Garden Bar would be given a Christmas-theme and opened for the festive celebrations.

Cheltenham Borough Council’s planning committee approved the BID’s plans for an ice rink in Imperial Gardens last year.

Due to on-going work at The Quadrangle, which is undergoing a multi-million-pound refurbishment, the original site planned for the rink within the gardens will not be available.

The BID is now submitting a new application to use the neighbouring quarter of the gardens in front of The Queens Hotel Cheltenham – Mgallery.

It also wants to expand the Christmas Market with stalls on pavements at the Long Gardens and on either side of The Promenade close to the ice rink. This will be in addition to the traditional Christmas market area on the pedestrianised Promenade in front of Cavendish House.

The ice rink operators would be 11th Hour, who have run successful rinks across the country, including Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland this winter.

Like the Cardiff rink, the Cheltenham rink would be covered and so would be the only one in Gloucestershire to offer skating whatever the weather. The rink would have glass sides and a transparent roof.

The proposal has been welcomed by neighbouring businesses.

Erol Uray, General Manager of the Queen’s Hotel, said: “We’re delighted at the plans for a new ice rink on our doorstep as part of the Christmas offer in Cheltenham this year.

“Town centres need to change to attract a wide range of customers and, with the rink, an expanded Christmas market and another spectacular lights display, Cheltenham would be able to compete with the best.”

Cheltenham BID Director Kevan Blackadder said: “We believe the ice rink and expanded Christmas markets would bring something different to Cheltenham this year.

“We’re delighted to be working with The Cheltenham Trust on their proposals for the Imperial Garden Bar, which would also help create a great visitor experience.”

It is with deep regret that we have taken the decision to cancel this year’s Hidden Cheltenham Easter Trail in response to the worst public health crisis in a generation. The safety of our volunteers, businesses employees and families is our priority in relation to COVID-19

The popular Hidden Trail Easter will return in April 2021.

The themed Trail was due to run Tuesday to Saturday through the Easter Holidays.

We sincerely wish good health for you and your families during these uncertain times.

Parking in all council-run car parks will be free of charge every afternoon during Cheltenham race week, for customers arriving from 1pm onwards.

From Monday 9 to Friday 13 March 2020 inclusive, visitors can enjoy the town centre for longer thanks to free parking. The initiative is designed to encourage shoppers to visit during Cheltenham’s Gold Cup festival, providing support to local retailers and businesses during what can otherwise be a quiet time for the town centre.

*Car parks allowing free parking to customers arriving after 1pm each day from Monday 9 to Friday 13 March 2019 are:

Bath Parade Bath Terrace
Chelt Walk Commercial Street
High Street Coronation Square
West End Regent Arcade
Rodney Road Royal Well (maximum stay 4 hours)
Sherborne Place St Georges Road
St James Street Town Centre East 

*Free afternoon parking during race week applies only to the council-run car parks listed. It does NOT apply to Chester Walk, North Place, NCP Portland Street, NCP The Brewery Quarter, Sandford Lido, CitiPark John Lewis, or any other privately-run car park in the town centre, neither does it apply to on-street parking.

Councillor Steve Jordan, leader at Cheltenham Borough Council, said: “There is a real buzz in Cheltenham when the races come to town, but we know that some retailers in the town centre experience a very quiet time throughout the day. We would very much welcome those who aren’t busy at the races, to visit our vibrant town centre and all that it has to offer.”

Kevan Blackadder, director of Cheltenham Business Improvement District (BID), added: “Too many locals stay away from the town centre during race week, but it’s a great time to come into town.

“It’s good to see that the council is again supporting this initiative, which I’m sure will help more businesses make the very best of the opportunities that race week brings. While it’s a fantastic time for our many food and drink businesses, we need to ensure that retailers and others benefit as well.”

Two major buildings are being lit in a special colour scheme in support of the Motor Neurone Disease Association charity during our Light Up Cheltenham event.

Queens Hotel Cheltenham – MGallery and 95 The Promenade (to the rear of Neptune’s Fountain) will be lit in orange and blue, the colours of the charity, on the weekend of 8 and 9 February.

The lights will be changing colours in support of two local people who suffer from Motor Neurone Disease (MND). Mark Morris, aged 49, is the well-known businessman who ran The Flower Man for many years, and Alex Edwards, 50, is a legal secretary at Wiggins Osborne Fullerlove Solicitors, who are based at 95 The Promenade.

Motor Neurone Disease is a rare condition, with around two in every 100,000 people diagnosed in Britain each year. The disease affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing the function of motor neurons to break down, making everyday activities increasingly difficult or completely impossible. Over time, the condition becomes progressively worse as the muscle weakens.

Mark only realised something was wrong in September 2018 when he tried Pilates to help with flexibility for upcoming races. He found he could not lie on his back without running out of breath.

It was not until February last year that he was referred to a neurologist who told him within days that he had Motor Neurone Disease.

Mark said: “Mine has a life span of 18 months, but who knows? I have cut a lot of stress out of my life and sold the business so you never know.”

Alex and her husband Paul, of Whitehorn Drive, Cheltenham, have three children and she says her life changed in October last year when she was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.

She had been leading a healthy and active lifestyle but hadn’t been feeling well since January 2018. Her father also had MND and died when she was 13.

Alex said: “It is such a hard disease to diagnose so I had eight months of not knowing, but I knew it wasn’t going to be good.  When I was told, it was devastating but also a relief in a weird way to find out what was wrong with me.

“It is a cruel disease as there is no cure (yet) and it’s so unpredictable.  My father had the disease for 18 months.  I have been told I have the slow version but who knows what slow is?

“I have the most supportive husband and kids and wonderful friends who keep me going, and going is what I am going to do. Live every moment I can to the full and make as many memories as I can. Life is totally for living. Who knows what the future will hold.”

The Motor Neurone Disease Association charity will be carrying out a street collection over the two days and handing out awareness leaflets.

Chris James, Director of External Affairs at the charity, said: “It is essential that we raise awareness of MND so people understand what a devastating disease it is. Having prominent buildings in Cheltenham lit up in Association colours is fantastic for awareness and we are grateful for the support of everyone affected by MND in Cheltenham who made this possible. Together we can make a real difference for people affected by MND.”

As part of the BID’s Tidy Up Cheltenham campaign, we are joining forces with Cheltenham Litter Picksies and Cheltenham Borough Council to support the Great British Spring Clean 2020. 

From March 20 to April 13, businesses, community groups, schools, local authorities and individuals are being encouraged to go out and collect and safely dispose of litter from streets, parks and beaches. 

Led by Keep Britain Tidy, this annual campaign seeks to inspire over half a million people to join forces.   

We know it’s the responsibility of the local council to ensure that bins are provided, emptied regularly and that daily street cleaning takes place.  We also realise that they sometimes face many challenges in doing this – not least in educating the public about the impact of dropping litter so we all need to take some responsibility for keeping Cheltenham tidy. 

We’d like to see BID businesses joining in with the Tidy Up Cheltenham campaign and signing up to do at least half an hour of tidying up outside their business during the Great British Spring Clean. 

The projects we have undertaken so far as part of our campaign have been well received by the public and businesses have been enthusiastic about getting involved. The Regent Street clean up saw many businesses join in and offer their services on the day. Boots Alley (Albion Walk) and Post Office Lane now have regular clean ups and businesses have taken responsibility for keeping the areas tidy.

Please email Belinda Hunt at belinda@cheltenhambid.co.uk if you would be willing to make a difference to the area outside your business. 

The BID has partnered with Cheltenham Borough Council to set up an effective team to help tackle anti-social behaviour across the town centre.

The new Town Centre Team is a group of partners from a variety of agencies, including Cheltenham Borough Council Enforcement and Public and Environmental Health officers, Police personnel, BID ambassadors and Solace representatives.

Belinda Hunt, BID Operations Manager sits on the Town Centre Team board.  She said: “Being able to get everyone around the table to share experiences and work together means all aspects of anti-social behaviour can be tackled more effectively from all angles.”

The Town Centre Team are addressing things like fly-tipping and fly-posting, street begging, illegal touts, street drinking, graffiti, littering, overflowing bins and much more, as part of our aim to make Cheltenham a safer, cleaner and more friendly place to be.

Mike Redman, Director of Environment said: “We can’t be in all places at once, so to tackle these issues, we need to know about them. It’s vital that people report what they see and what they want dealt with. Feedback from businesses and the public has been that it is difficult to report anti-social behaviour.  So, one of the first things that has been achieved by the Town Centre Team is the streamlining of an online reporting tool.”

To make a report to the Town Centre Team go to www.cheltenham.gov.uk/report-it  and select the issue you want to report on.  You will be taken to a page which gives you some information about the range of matters you can report, with a click-through to the appropriate on-line reporting form. Reports are logged and you will get a response and be updated when the issue has been dealt with.  There is a relatively small team dealing with initial reports and getting them on to the right officers for action, so please try to keep your description brief and, if you have them, upload images.

Paymentsense are offering an exclusive deal for Cheltenham BID businesses to help reduce their payment provider costs.

They will buy you out of your current contract up to the value of £3,000 and offer free terminal rental.

If you would like to find out more about how you could benefit, please contact James Roberts at Paymentsense and quote Cheltenham BID. Call James on 07848 452990 or email james.roberts@paymentsense.com

Staff from Under the Prom and Coco Lush received their Level 2 Award for Personal Licence Holders (APLH) delivered directly by the council.

The businesses, owned by Cheltenham BID’s deputy chair Philip Jordan, took advantage of the council’s group booking discount to send six members of staff on the course.

The level 2 qualification is fully accredited and is aimed at staff and managers working in the leisure sector, particularly those who are working in businesses selling alcohol.  The qualification is also necessary for anybody wishing to apply for a personal licence.

Philip said: “The fact that the course was being run by council staff meant I could trust the information they were getting was correct, which helped my businesses, along with it being the best priced course locally!”

Cheltenham Borough Council recently received the national MJ Achievement award for the Best Commercial Council and are offering BID businesses a special rate for this training.

To find out more email licensing@cheltenham.gov.uk

08 April 2019
April Newsletter

For more than ten businesses, Post Office Lane is the only place they can store their bins, and with four of those being restaurants, cafes and coffee shops, that’s a lot of rubbish and food waste.  It’s no wonder then, that it has made its way onto Alex Chalk’s ‘grot spot’ list. You would sometimes be hard pressed to distinguish it from a local landfill site.

Well, not anymore! As part of our Tidy Up Cheltenham campaign, the BID has been focusing on this area for a long time. Working with Cheltenham Borough Council (CBC) and local businesses, our ambassadors arranged a litter pick and general clean up of Post Office Lane.

Deb, Carolyn and Phil, three of the BID Ambassadors, would like to say a massive thank you to Clive Evans, Community Protection Officer at CBC; Sophie Scarrott, owner of Keith Scarrott Shoes (and BID Board Director); Claire Harrison and Sarah Locke from Yates Wine Bar, who got down and dirty to help clear away rubbish, food waste and pallets.

09 April 2019
April Newsletter

Being a BID Director means you get to have a say in the future success of Cheltenham.

Board membership is only open to those who represent a business in the BID area and whose levy payments are up to date.  This means that sometimes, because people don’t stay with the same business all their working life and move on to pastures new, they have to resign from the Board.

Mel Tubby, former Food Commercial Manager of Marks and Spencer in Cheltenham, has been appointed Store Manager of the Swindon branch.  We are sure you will join us in wishing Mel every success in her new role.

Mel’s resignation from the Board means there is now a vacancy for a representative from within the national retail sector. 

If you work for one of the many national businesses in Cheltenham and would like the chance to make a real difference and add to what we have already achieved, please contact BID Director Kevan Blackadder on 01242 571123 or email him at kevan@cheltenhambid.co.uk.

An election will be held among national retailers after nominations are received.