Need for TCM and BIDs to network and speak to policy makers
When I was a practising TCM, in the early days of the place management industry, there was a real need not only to network in order to learn from other and share ideas but to get the ear of policy makers. Those drivers still exist today at a local, regional and national level.
As CEO at Action for Market Towns from 2002 the policy makers in question were via the Countryside Agency at a national level. But importantly, we needed to give those operating locally the information and ammunition they needed to try and influence locally.
Today, almost every BID will have something resembling “A Stronger Voice” in their business plan, seeking to place themselves as the representative voice for business in their area. Quite right, it is a very important role and it generally works well as BIDs and partnerships earn the respect of local politicians, officers and other stakeholders.
A fragmented arena for TCM and BIDs
At a national level things seem to have regressed. It was heady days when Jacquie Reilly was heading up the ATCM’s BIDs agenda. She succeeded in getting Ministers to visit the US and ultimately bring forward legislation for BIDs, firstly in England and Wales, followed by Scotland and finally N. Ireland.
However, things have become more fragmented and that “single voice” representing place management, in particular BIDs, has been hard to identify as ATCM appears to be less active and British BIDs has taken a different strategic direction. With significant policy changes coming, everything from Business Rate reform and revaluation to Brexit, it is vital that the industry is able to engage and speak with one voice.
Moving Forward Together
This is why organisations like Revive & Thrive have become important, picking up the ball dropped by others, in ensuring that Stronger Voice is heard, but also providing the platform to allow place managers and those passionate about where they work, live or do business to influence share, learn and, crucially, to be heard. Not only that, but to be seen to be an influencer is very important to businesses. That applies locally as well as nationally. This is a key moment in the development of BIDs. It is vitally important we get this right.
Getting back to basics, it seems to me that those of us that have built up “hands on” experience in place management have a role, almost a duty, to new entrants to help and support each other. Is place management unique as an industry where supporting potential competitors is viewed as the norm? Anyway, when I was a newly minted TCM I went out at least once a year in a mini tour to meet those that had experience and I could learn (steal) from. My first port of call was Keith Hoskins in Hitchin, recently awarded an MBE for services to his community as a TCM.
TCM & BIDs Shouldn’t Work In Isolation
There are still huge challenges ahead for our town and city centres. As ever, we are facing up to them in pragmatic fashion, just getting on with the job! It will be so much easier if we have the representative body we need. After all, a place manager is by its very nature in a lonely position.
As we come up to Christmas the old maxim, “give and you shall receive” was never truer. So I invite anyone who has a knotty problem to solve to give me a call. I might not know the answer, but I can generally point to in the right direction!