An early morning business breakfast event organised by the Chippenham Business Improvement District (BID) at the Rivo Lounge has proved a resounding success, with 75 attendees representing a range of stakeholders including the local business community and regional organisations, as well as media and newly elected Chippenham constituency MP Michelle Donelan.
At the event, which took place today (7.30am Friday June 19), Chair of the BID board Melody Thompson gave an overview of the process that led to the BID being approved, followed by an update from BID manager Carolyn Brownell on progress so far, as well as initiatives planned. The presentations concluded with a Q&A session and informal networking by attendees.
Speaking during the networking session, Michelle Donelan MP said: “This has been a good event with a fantastic turnout of a broad range of businesses and vested interests in the town. It has showcased just how passionate people are about Chippenham and the fact we have so much potential, not only in what we can offer, but also in our people.
“I’ve always thought Chippenham doesn’t market itself very well and there has never been a coordinated effort to address this. The BID is challenging that problem and giving Chippenham a voice, while at the same time putting the town on the map. We are the gateway to the south with wonderful transport networks and we have a lot to offer, but not enough people know that. The best way the town can work is by listening to the business community and their ideas. The BID can bring it all together to give people the town they want, which in turn will create jobs and bring more people in.”
David Andrews of Visit Wiltshire said: “This has been a great event with a fantastic turnout and some positive questions. Although the BID is very new, there is lots of activity and some positive initiatives already being delivered, and it’s good to hear businesses being so receptive. What the BID is doing for Chippenham is bringing together a range of organisations and giving coordination, galvanisation and impetus, which is what the town needs.”
Helen Osbourne, manager of the RSPCA Charity Shop commented: “It’s been a good event and we’ve seen some good ideas. I’ve always thought Chippenham is a great place to live, but is seriously undersold, so the BID will benefit everybody that lives in the town. Reaction to the BID has been very positive and I think generally everybody is in favour of it.”
Rachel Terry, manager of The Citadel Hall said, “There are a lot of events and functions that people don’t hear about, so to have the BID tie it all together will be good for business. The town needs this level of coordination, publicity and promotion.”
Independent business were well represented at the business breakfast, including Lottie Dodd of Is That Sew? And Faye Matthewman of Phase Patch Craft. Ms Dodd said: “The BID team have done well this morning to make clear what the intentions are. Obviously it’s a long term project and difficult to address every single concern, but I’m very optimistic about the BID. There are some great businesses starting up and Chippenham is a great place to live and work. If we can change the image of the town, business will improve, more businesses will come, and empty units will start to fill.”
Faye Matthewman added “I’m very impressed with the turnout. Chippenham has an image problem and we all recognise that. This is the first step on a long road to change that.”
Carolyn Brownell, BID manager concluded, “We are absolutely delighted with the turnout and the overwhelming positive response shown. There is a real feeling of the Chippenham community pulling together behind the BID and with a real commitment. As we press on with initiatives it gives the BID team a great deal of added impetus to know that people are so supportive of what we are doing.”
Pictured above from left to right: Michelle Donelan MP, Melody Thompson, BID board chairman and Carolyn Brownell, Chippenham BID manager