Winchester Business Improvement District (BID) might not have the largest office in the city, but from within it, big things happen.
Set up in 2008 to help city centre businesses collectively promote Winchester, its five-strong team supports 766 levy-paying members. Last year, its services were formally accredited by British BIDs which represents BIDs across the country.
“As well as working strategically on areas like marketing, Winchester BID also works practically to manage annual events such as the Christmas lights switch-on, Winchester Cocktail Week, Bunny Hop, Winchester Fashion Week and Winchester Business Excellence Awards,” says Executive Director Catherine Turness.“We also help to make the city centre safe, clean and attractive and provide additional resources for the work that is done by the City Council and Hampshire Constabulary.
“While a lot of our work is done behind the scenes, we’re also responsible for decorating the city with over 500 hanging baskets each summer, Christmas lights and trees in winter and ensuring that graffiti, rubbish and chewing gum are removed as quickly as possible from the streets.”
“Our aim is to support city businesses across the board. That might be by installing billboards promoting Winchester at Waterloo station or hosting regular networking events. We also conduct quarterly research to monitor footfall and spending within the city centre which gives us insight into market trends and new areas of growth.”
Winchester BID’s crime reduction measures include radios for 150 businesses, allowing them to communicate instantly. The organisation funds three community support officers, with its spending matched by Hampshire Constabulary, ensuring a team of six are dedicated to the city centre beat.
“We’re lucky that Winchester has a relatively low crime rate,” says Catherine. “The city was given Purple Flag accreditation for the fifth year running last year, recognising its safe night time economy. BID supports the Street Pastor teams and facilitated the Spare Change For Real Change campaign to reduce street begging.”
Encouraging city businesses to work sustainably, the BID’s waste management services ensure as much waste as possible is recycled. It also helps reduce energy operating costs through collective procurement. “Next year, we’re hoping to extend the city’s online presence with a new shopping portal,” says Catherine. “In an era of technology, we want Winchester businesses to maximise on Internet trading opportunities.
“At the heart of Winchester BID’s work is the promotion of the city as a vibrant and cultured place in which to shop, work, live and visit. I love the fact there are so many things going on here. Winchester businesses are really good at getting together to support new initiatives and that makes it an exciting city to live and work in.”
Winchester BID is based at Winchester Business Centre, Parchment Street. Winchester. Tel. 01962 841000. www.winchesterbid.co.uk.