To consider the report and make any appropriate recommendations to Cabinet.
Representatives from the Business Improvement District will also be present at the Meeting and Members will have the opportunity to ask questions on the Business Plan and their priorities.
The Chief Executive presented the Cabinet report and explained that the Council could place a vote for the continuation of the BID for a second term. The recommendation was that the Council continued its support of the BID and the Business Plan and the Chief Executive is instructed to vote accordingly on behalf of the Council.
Representatives from the Business Improvement District were present at the meeting and provided information on the work carried out during the past five years, plans for the second term if the ballot was successful and the priorities and objectives of the BID as set out in the Business Plan.
The Chair thanked officers for the presentation and invited questions and comments from the Panel, as summarised below.
Councillor Crofts asked if more could be done to encourage coach trips into the town centre and Vicky Etheridge explained that she had been working with the Tourism Officer at the Borough Council on encouraging visitors to the town centre. Councillor Crofts commented that the Tuesday Market Place would be ideal for coach parking as it was central and had facilities nearby.
Councillor Jones asked about improvements to the appearance of vacant units, especially when the owners could not be tracked down. He suggested that projections could go on the shop fronts to improve the appearance. Vicky Etheridge acknowledged that it was difficult when owners could not be tracked down, but efforts were made to overcome obstacles and utilise existing business contacts.
Councillor Parish felt that a thriving regular market was important. Vicky Etheridge provided details of the monthly farmers market which was held on the Saturday Market Place and the Christmas Market which had been held for the past three years. She explained that this year the Christmas Market would be held in the vacant Argos building, which had the benefit of being indoors, in a central location and would hopefully bring visitors into the town centre.
Councillor de Whalley also felt it was important to have a thriving market and it was important to support independent and specialist businesses. He also asked if the BID could assist with improving the Ferry access to the town centre. It was explained that the work of the BID was based on the priorities which had been agreed by the levy payers and needed to be spent within the BID area.
Councillor Bambridge made reference to the Markets Informal Working Group that she had previously sat on a few years ago. She felt that this work should be revisited. She also raised concerns about the location of the Christmas Market and it was explained that work to make it look festive would be carried out and it was a central flexible space.
Councillor Bone referred to the market offer of the town and suggested that a flea market or car boot sale type event could be a good way to encourage people into the town centre. Vicky Etheridge explained that she had considered this and was in discussion with charity shops and it was possible that a recycling and upcycling event could be looked at.
Councillor Bubb addressed the Panel under Standing Order 34 and commented that there were no maps in the town centre with businesses highlighted. It was explained that digital signage was currently being looked at for the town centre.
The Chair, Councillor Collingham commented that improvements to the entrances to the town centre needed to be looked at, including the railway gates which she felt needed painting. She asked for further information on the Christmas Market and it was confirmed that the event would take place on 11th and 12th December and it was hoped that 30 stalls would be available.
Councillor Rust addressed the Panel under Standing Order 34 and felt that a downloadable and printable map of the town centre would be beneficial that people could access before they visited the town centre. She also felt that a drop off point for coach trips in the town centre was important and she made reference to the Community Renewal Fund and pop up shops.
Councillor Parish abstained from voting on recommendation (a).
RESOLVED: That the Regeneration and Development Panel support the recommendations to Cabinet as set out below:
Cabinet is recommended to:
a) Endorse the Discover King’s Lynn Business Plan 2022-2027
b) Instruct the Chief Executive to vote in favour of the BID on behalf of the Council.