The BID’s ambassadors can honestly say their role is varied. No day is ever the same as they go about their tasks.
We currently have two ambassadors who between them cover shifts over seven days a week.
Phil Cook joined the team on 1 October 2017. Since then, he has reported and acted on more than 350 cases of anti-social behaviour ranging from flyposting and littering to drug and alcohol related violence. He has cleaned stickers and graffiti from more than 180 public realm facilities such as lampposts, road signs, utility and post boxes.
Phil said: “We work very hard to try to keep our town looking tidy and it is a never-ending task, with graffiti, fly-posting, littering and fly-tipping. This problem isn’t Cheltenham specific; it is a generic problem across the country, the difference is that Cheltenham has the BID ambassadors to help tackle it. If we can’t deal with it, we report it to somebody who can.
“It is not my favourite part of the job, but it is all part of what we do and who we are. Dealing with it does directly support the businesses and the local economy, because such antisocial behaviour can impact on visitor numbers and it’s important that the town looks welcoming”.
Phil recognises how important the public realm work is in helping Cheltenham to be a friendly and welcoming place, but prefers the daily contact with managers, owners and staff of the businesses. Whether it’s delivering newsletters, hearing about their plans, sharing information about various BID projects or listening to the specific issues facing them, Phil’s enthusiasm to help the businesses means he is often their first port of call when seeking advice.
Jo-Anne Hale is the newest addition to the team. She was thrown in at the deep end, starting as we went to ballot in June. She had to quickly understand the history, operation and proposed future strategic direction of Cheltenham BID as she responded to specific queries about the balloting process and the team’s role in supporting BID zone enterprises.
At the same time, she was learning about the myriad of day-to-day issues that crop up for BID businesses, such as roadworks, parking issues, graffiti, antisocial behaviour, and the impact of new building works and how the BID helps with those issues.
Jo-Anne has also taken on the task of administering the popular Cheltenham gift card scheme. She ensures that orders are sent out promptly and has given numerous participating businesses who have new staff, a refresher on how to accept the cards.
Jo-Anne said: “Being a BID ambassador continues to be an exhilarating ride and I’m enjoying the varied mix of practical and administrative challenges arising each day, as well as the opportunity to interact with a wide range of business representatives. “
In the past few months, Phil and Jo-Anne have been visiting both old and new BID businesses to introduce themselves. They have already built up some very positive relationships as they hear about the issues facing different types of businesses in the aftermath of the pandemic and highlighting specific ways in which individual businesses can benefit financially from belonging to the BID.
Jo-Anne said: ‘Knowing that we’re mutually supported in our business endeavours is a morale boost in itself and the BID zone businesses’ positive influence on the town’s future will be much amplified as we work collaboratively to improve our prospects.’
The BID ambassadors are the eyes and ears of the town and the BID. They are ‘here to help you’ so please give them a friendly wave as they go about their day-to-day work.