Rhonda McCrimmon, BID Manager, BID St Andrews was the speaker at the November 2016 breakfast meeting of the Club
Rhonda has a strong background in financial and event management – having worked as an accountant with Fife companies Carters Accountants, Craig & Rose and SRUC Elmwood before spending four years as a financial accountant at the University of St Andrews, including work on capital projects.
Rhonda told Club members and their guests about the many things BID St Andrews has accomplished since the Board was elected by levy-payers in November 2015.
She first explained that the aim of BID St Andrews is to harness the power of the global brand of St Andrews for the benefit of local businesses and the community. Through the BID a series of projects and services are creating a more vibrant business environment focused on delivering an enhanced customer experience and reputation for the town.
The BID is managed by a dedicated Board of 10 volunteer representatives from levy-paying businesses and two local councillors plus the BID Manager, Rhonda.
The compulsory business rate levy is paid by qualifying businesses whose premises are inside the BID area and is collected on BID’s behalf by Fife Council. By the end of October 2016 £129,000 of levy income had been collected – 87.6% of the amount due. The balance is mainly accounted for by businesses paying it via payment plans.
BID’s grant income of £35,000 to date is on-track with the business plan target. It’s also received ‘in kind’ support from several businesses including Thorntons Solicitors and The Old Course Hotel (£1,930 of free meeting space) and University of St Andrews (£20,000 of staff time, accommodation, office, meeting and function space).
Reviewing the highlights of what BID St Andrews has done with those resources, Rhonda first went over the key facts of BID’s first major event – the 1st St Andrews Photography Festival, which was held from August 1 to September 11:
- 18 Exhibitions (13 hosted by local businesses) were attended by approximately 2,500 people.
- 40 events (talks, workshops, demonstrations, artists evenings, etc.) drew a total of 874 people.
- PR achieved 70 media spots on radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, social media and the Web locally, nationally and internationally over three months and reached at least four million people. The festival gained a 3-star rating from The Scotsman.
- Overall cost £35,000 – £10,000 grant funding from Fife Council Area Budget and Strategic Events, £10,000 from BID as per Business Plan, £15,000 University of St Andrews (via ‘In Kind’ Support).
The next photography festival will take place over four weeks in September 2017.
During July 2016 BID also for the Land Train to return for a trial summer week after a well-received run during the 2015 Open weekend. The route linked the sights of St Andrews and showcased the town.
The train proved popular with both tourists and locals. As a result it will return at Christmas and BID is in talks about an extended run in Summer 2017.
Clean and Green
One of the main themes of the BID Business Plan, as a result of feedback from levy-payers about their priorities, are the Clean and Green projects. Rhonda summarised progress on each of these:
- St Andrews in Bloom: BID planted the seeds of a five-year programme of support for St Andrews in Bloom by working with St Andrews Links Trust to provide 10 planters for St Andrews in Bloom to put up in Market St. As result of this and other initiatives in horticulture, sustainability and community engagement, BID St Andrews won a Gold Medal in the Beautiful Scotland Awards, which will raise the profile of St Andrews as a visitor destination. BID has plans to widen the scope of the Bloom collaboration in 2017.
- Seagulls: BID commissioned a scientific survey of the problems related to seagulls from University of St Andrews. Its report is expected in late-November 2016.
- Clean and Green Team: Funded by Fife Council & BID, a ‘Clean and Green Team’ has been created with delivery partner St Andrews Environmental Network (StAndEn) to recruit Employability volunteers to tackle issues such as litter and the proper disposal of recyclable items from student flat clearances. Supervisor David Angus was appointed in October 2016 and a flatbed truck purchased.
David is liaising with Fife Council to address town centre issues such as bin discipline, street sweeping frequency and quality, ‘A-boards’, on-street storage of items by businesses (e.g. beer kegs in lanes), removing defunct roadworks signs and sand bags, alternatives to ashtrays on tops of bins not emptied frequently enough, flyers and sign cable ties and refurbishment or removal of BT phone boxes.
Rhonda went on to explain the various initiatives BID has lined up to help the town maximise the economic benefit from the Festive Period this year by raising the profile of St Andrews as a Christmas destination:
- A St Andrews Christmas Guide is being created with free advertising for levy-payers and at a small charge to others. It will be distributed in the region and as far as Broughty Ferry to bring Christmas shoppers into town.
- The Land Train will return for a week in the run-up to Christmas, running a shorter route around town.
- A Santa’s grotto will be created at The Byre Theatre.
- A Christmas Day Out will be held on December 17, including carol-singing and storytelling at Holy Trinity Church and Christmas characters and Christmas Tree stilt-walkers around town.
- BID has provided £2,500 sponsorship for the Christmas Lights Switch-On event on November 26, which will include entertainment from Donnie Munro and Skerryvore.
BID has agreed in principle to take over the organisation of the Christmas Lights event from 2017 and will explore possible options with a stewardship team from The Old Course Hotel in early 2017.
Rhonda next outlined two of the events planned for early 2017:
- Burns Festival: This event will be in January 2017 and will include a family ceilidh at The Scores Hotel, a poetry reading and poetry open mic night with StAnza at We Are Zest and a poetry workshop hosted by StAnza.
- St Andrews Fashion Festival (STAFF): Unlike the existing student-run fashion festival, STAFF will be open to all. It will be held at The Byre and include a Schools Academy of Fashion. Fringe events around all kinds of fashion will be held. Rhonda asked anyone interested in participating to contact her.
Online Marketing and Promotion
Finally, Rhonda’s presentation explained that BID is exploring options for its online presence and is developing a strategy for marketing and promotion including:
- Exploring options for a cohesive tourism strategy for St Andrews in collaboration with other groups.
- Exploring options for innovative marketing strategies including emerging social media platforms.
- Free town wifi – in talks with University of St Andrews and BT.
- BID has recently refreshed its website and will be using this to keep levy-payers and other stakeholders up to date.
Answering questions from attendees, Rhonda said which events would become annual fixtures would depend on the KPI performance of each,
Rhonda also confirmed that BID is keen to engage with all groups in the community and would welcome more involvement from levy-payers.
For more information about BID St Andrews and for contact details, go to https://bidstandrews.co.uk/
This meeting is open to Club members and their guests only.
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