New Revive & Thrive Market Town Member Chris Windridge introduction……

New Revive & Thrive Market Town Member Chris Windridge introduction……

40 years in IT covering very large systems for commercial and science type uses. Key words. Supercomputers, Large scale projects, Big Data, AI, Data Mining. Big networks,  microwave and fibre connections.

Became involved with the “Town Healthcheck “ a UK Market Towns programme in 2006, setting up a local exercise in Caterham Surrey  “ ABC – A Better Caterham”. 

This led to taking up a “temporary” role in the South East, as a co-ordinator for all towns doing similar exercises for AMT ( Action for Market Towns). The role lasted from 2008 to 2011 and during this time I focussed on the idea of a Healthcheck Mk2 that could cover towns & villages too.  It ended after government cutbacks and a similar initiative succeeded as Neighbourhood Planning.

During the same period The South East Rural Towns Partnership covered the same set of towns across 9 counties, acting as a promoter of ideas and facilitating projects too. I became a director and took on the chair role for the last year of its life. The  government withdrew funding soon after!

The key project for our Healthcheck was called “Shabby to Smart” which in terms of aspiration still summarises our aspirations as a place.

I introduced a loyalty scheme and helped introduce similar schemes in two other towns, meeting Mark Barnes when we had both travelled to Yorkshire to speak at an event about loyalty scemes.

Broadband is a pet topic and encouraging innovation.

When the Localism Act introduced Neighbourhood Planning, we created an alliance locally between 4 parishes , ABC and the towns Business Partnership. That exercise is near completion but it has led to

  • I am available to help others. Particular focus on the economic side of towns and projects, and the strategic imperative to engage local people, business and local government in change.
  • Knowledge of various data sources, funding, methodologies to help generate local plans and improvements
  • Leading a group from 2015 for a local Town Design exercise, to assist in bringing forward economic and spatial improvements, while retaining character.  Linked to a Local Authority  Masterplan exercise . 2015 to 2018

In summary

Since 2006 I have been involved in improving “Our Place”. Learning from others and passing ideas along.  The town went on to launch a Festival – now in its 9th year, bought the Town Hall for £1, launched a Loyalty Scheme, formed a BID, created a Town Design Statement and is involved in a Masterplan and a Neighbourhood Plan.

Although Caterham is not a classic Market Town it has many of the characteristics in being a mid-sized place forming an economic hub for a wider area. In our case London is a big influence too as we sit on Junct 6 of the M25.


Let’s make some noise!

Think about these questions :  How does your place create noise to raise its profile?  Does it depend on your audience? Is it strategically planned or does it just happen? Does it matter if the noise is created top down or bottom up?
Jacqui (Thomas Jardine & Co) and Maria (Hawkshead) Relish making noise with Neil (BBC Cumbria)

Think about these questions :  How does your place create noise to raise its profile?  Does it depend on your audience? Is it strategically planned or does it just happen? Does it matter if the noise is created top down or bottom up?

Now let me tell you two stories.  The first is top down noise making, the second is bottom up noise making:

The first is an example of strategic top down noise making…

Carlisle is in the process of developing St Cuthberts Garden Village a large development of up to 10,000 houses, school and work places. This will be a significant addition to a city of around 107,000 residents and is part of the Governments Garden Towns & Villages Programme.  The development aims to raise Carlisle’s housing stock and so the council has worked hard to raise our profile with regional and national house builders.  As part of the Local Plan it is strategically led by the council.  The success of this project will lead to a significant rise in the city’s population and raise our profile with city designers across the country.

This is a prime example of a large expensive project raising the profile of a city and is an important  tactical game that all local authorities have to play.  This form of noise requires careful planning and strategic cooperation across the public and private sector.

The second is an example of ‘just do it’  bottom up noise making…

A small group of Cumbrian food producers regularly attended the Farmshop & Deli Show at the NEC which is possibly the largest trade food and drink show in the UK. They always booked their stands separately and were dispersed across the trade show, this year a couple of them (Lisa and Maria) got together and decided it would be really good to have a Cumbrian pavillion just like the Welsh and the Scottish ones.  So they booked a large space for up to 16 businesses including some shared space for businesses new to the trade show.

Lisa of Ginger Bakers and Maria of Hawkshead Relish then approached Jacqui of Thomas Jardine & Co and Sue of the Fambiznet to help them create a pavilion and fill the other 10 or so spaces.  So in July the noise for ‘this is Cumbria’  started with radio interviews, press releases and hits over the social media world.  The big noise will happen when the pavillion appears at the NEC next April.


This is a fine example of a project created by a business need in a place , supported by other businesses in that place.  This is Cumbria will grow into something that makes a noise about its place disproportionately to the size of its originators.

Why the two examples?  Both examples are heard both in the place and also importantly outside the place by potential residents or businesses.The first is one that naturally gets the attention of planners, city builders and national bodies and definitely makes a noise in these arenas.  The second is typical of sector specific but place based noise makers.  Their noise is heard across their sector but not always by their local planners or city builders.

Let’s all make an effort to hear and harness our local noise wherever it starts from  and in so doing encourage more noise about our places.

New Swansea BID Ambassador On Hand To Help Businesses

Swansea BID
Swansea BID (Business Improvement District) has appointed its first ambassador, who will be a champion for the BID area businesses, giving further support to them by listening to their concerns and views, in a move designed to help the City Centre flourish.

Krysha O’Sullivan steps into a newly-created role as Swansea BID Ambassador, and her focus will be on getting out and about every week, meeting the 800-plus BID area businesses, getting to know them and being an extra point of contact for BID Businesses.

Projects Manager at Swansea BID, Amelia Rudman, said: “I’m pleased to welcome Krysha to the Swansea BID fold. She is an impressive, capable young woman with a sound background in events management and I know she will forge strong bonds with our BID area businesses.

“It is important to us here at Swansea BID to nurture robust relationships with BID businesses, to ensure everything that can be done is being done to support them to flourish.  These are exciting times for Swansea City Centre and for the wider city, with the ongoing regeneration and investment thanks to the City Deal – diggers are on the ground as we speak, carrying out the first phase of the regeneration.

While we know our BID Businesses are onboard with the development, and are keen to see our new-look City Centre take shape, It is important that we continue to listen to our members’ concerns, views and news about the regeneration – and about their other priorities  – and this is where Krysha will be valuable.

Northwich to be blooming lovely this summer

North West in Bloom competition

Northwich will be filled with colour and creativity later this summer as the town enters the North West in Bloom competition.

Hanging and railing baskets will be filled with vibrant plants, specially designed floral motifs will be laid and bedded in the town centre and events will take place at various locations in the town including Barons Quay.

To complement this, the BID are also liaising with retailers regarding a shop window  competition, with businesses being encouraged to design and create their own unique displays to tie in with the ‘In Bloom’ theme.

Two retailers, Crafty Stitches and Northwich Art Shop, have already got involved in the competition, adding colour and vividness to their premises.

Crafty Stitches’ staff and customers have knitted hanging baskets and a unique archway which are adorning the front of their shop, while the Art Shop has beautiful baskets outside their store too.

Northwich, which is entering both the BID and Large Town Centre categories, will be visited for judging on Monday 6th August, when representatives from North West in Bloom will be taken on a tour of the town and sightseeing tour of the different elements included in Northwich’s entry.

BID Manager Jane Hough is looking forward to helping co-ordinate Northwich’s in Bloom entry and seeing the town coming together once again to help raise its profile.

“After months of planning and preparation, it’s great to start seeing sections of our activity coming together. There is going to be so much colour and creativity on show across the whole town for visitors, shoppers and residents to enjoy.

“This project is another great example of partnership working within the town between different organisations and our businesses too and I’m confident it will give the town’s profile another boost. Hopefully we can secure a good score from the judges – we certainly feel as though we’ve got a comprehensive and well-planned entry.”

Town Clerk Chris Shaw has echoed Jane’s sentiments . “A lot of time and consideration has gone into Northwich’s entry to the North West In Bloom competition and like Jane says, it’s once again brilliant to see partnership working yielding positive outcomes.

“It will also give local schools, and community centric groups such as Grozone and Northwich Rotary Club, a great platform to showcase what they’re all about and show people the amazing work they do.”

Keep checking the Visit Northwich website for the latest information about the initiative:

Blachere Christmas Light Competition WINNER

               On the 18th July, representatives of twelve towns made their way to Fitzrovia in London as finalists of the fourth Annual Blachere Illumination Christmas Light Competition.

After towns and cities from across England and Wales submitted their entries in June, it was just down to the last stage to win £10,000 worth of lights for their town centre or high street.

Asked to demonstrate why their town centre is more appealing as a destination for a Christmas Light Switch On, the finalists presented to five Judges all with extensive place management experience.

After extensive deliberation Ormskirk was announced as the winner with Farnborough a close second winning £2,000 worth of lights.

Ronnie Brown, Managing Director of Blachere Illumination said “Over the four years that we have been running the competition this was the closest final with the top five separated by only 3% of the scoring points” Mr Brown added “The quality of the presentations was extremely high and the passion that the entrants demonstrated for their towns was very impressive”

Mark Barnes, Founder and Managing Director of Revive & Thrive Ltd who manages the competition each year for Blachere said “These challenges are not designed to entertain, each year the entrants say that just by taking part they have learned something more about their towns and the experiences that residents and visitors are looking for” adding “Each town should be proud of just reaching the final twelve.”

The runners up each won a prize of £1,000 worth of lights.  Those heading home with a runners up prize are, in no particular order, – Thame, Putney, Kidsgrove, Lancaster, Pontardawe,  Portishead, Halifax, Salisbury, St Helens and Sunderland.

Blachere Illumination and Theming are also offering a prize as part of the Revive & Thrive Market Towns Challenge which was launched earlier this month.